Yellow-legged gull eggs (Larus michahellis) as persistent organic pollutants and trace metal bioindicator for two nearby areas with different human impact

The concentration of different persistent organic pollutants (POPs including chlorinated and brominated compounds) and trace metals and metalloids (As, Cd, Cu, Cr, Pb, Hg, Ni, and Zn) was examined in eggs from two colonies of yellow-legged gulls. The two colonies are established in Ría de Vigo, Northwest Spain, with a distance between them of only 10 km, one in Vigo town (industrial and harbour activities) and the other in the Cíes Islands in a Natural Park and Marine Protected Area –MPA- (with no known anthropogenic inputs). Statistically significant differences for the two colonies were observed for Hg, the sum of 7 CBs, the sum of DDTs y and the sum of 9 PBDEs, with values that could be causing some toxic effects in the area of the most anthropogenically influenced colony. The estimated isotopic niche was also calculated, based on δ15N and δ13C, for the two colonies, pointing to a wider diet in the Cíes colony when compared to the diet in the Vigo colony. The study supports the use of the yellow-legged seagull eggs as a bioindicator of pollution capable of differentiating pollution level even in geographically close areas.