Trace elements in biomaterials and soils from a Yellow-legged gull (Larus michahellis) colony in the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park (NW Spain).


Otero, X.L., de la Peña-Lastra, S., Romero, D., Nobrega, G.N., Ferreira, T.O., Pérez-Alberti, A., 2018. Trace elements in biomaterials and soils from a Yellow-legged gull (Larus michahellis) colony in the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park (NW Spain). Marine Pollution Bulletin, 133, pp.144-149.

Seabird colonies drastically transform the sites that they inhabit. Although the influence of seabirds on nutrient cycling has been investigated in numerous studies, the effects on trace elements has scarcely been considered. In this study, we determined the total contents of 9 trace elements in biomaterials (excrement, pellets, feathers and eggs) and soils in relation to the presence the Yellow-legged gull Larus michahellis. The concentrations of Zn, Cu and As were particularly high in the pellets and excrement. The total contents of the trace elements were significantly higher in the soils in the sub-colonies in which Yellow-legged gulls predominate than in soil from the control zone (with no gulls). The difference was even higher for the most reactive geochemical fractions. We observed that the oxidizable fraction was the most relevant fraction for almost all trace elements, indicating the importance of organic matter in trace element retention in sandy soils.

Presence and impact of Stockholm Convention POPs in gull eggs from Spanish and Portuguese natural and National Parks

Zapata, P., Ballesteros-Cano, R., Colomer, P., Bertolero, A., Viana, P., Lacorte, S., Santos, F.J., 2018. Presence and impact of Stockholm Convention POPs in gull eggs from Spanish and Portuguese natural and national parks. Science of The Total Environment, 633, pp.704-715.

The aim of the present work was to comparatively assess the occurrence and impact of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in nine natural and national parks from Spain and Portugal using gull eggs (Larus michahellis and L. audouinii) as bioindicators of environmental contamination. Sampling was performed during the breeding season of 2016. Compounds studied include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorinated pesticides (OC pesticides), perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and were analyzed using mass spectrometric based techniques. The results showed a high contamination by PCBs in all colonies, with total levels ranging from 59 to 1278 ng/g wet weight (ww), despite their use is not currently authorized. OC pesticides were also present in all colonies, with a high incidence of 4,4′-DDE in gull eggs at levels up to 218 ± 50 ng/g ww in L. michahellis and 760 ± 412 ng/g ww in L. audouinii from the Ebro Delta natural park. PBDEs and PFOS were also detected at levels up to 91.7 ± 21.3 ng/g ww, which can be attributed to a more recent use. Except for PBDEs, the POP levels in eggs from L. audouinii were higher than in L. michahellis, presumably associated to the fish-based diet of the former. Finally, the effect of POP levels on eggshell parameters (volume, eggshell thickness and desiccation index) were investigated for each colony and gull species in order to evaluate the egg viability and, therefore, the reproduction success.

Cormorán moñudo – Phalacrocorax aristotelis (Enciclopedia Virtual de los Vertebrados Españoles)

Barros, A., Alvarez, D., Velando, A. (2013). Cormorán moñudo – Phalacrocorax aristotelis. En: Enciclopedia Virtual de los Vertebrados Españoles. Salvador, A., Morales, M. B. (Eds.). Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Madrid.


Álvarez, D. e Pajuelo, M.A.F., 2011. Southern populations of European shag Phalacrocorax a. aristotelis advance their laying date in response to local weather conditions but not to large-scale climate. Ardeola, 58(2), pp.239-250.

La fecha de puesta es un hecho crítico en la vida de las aves, ya que determina en gran medida su éxito reproductor. Los efectos de las condiciones atmosféricas y del clima sobre el inicio de la reproduction han sido ampliamente estudiados en las últimas décadas y el adelanto en la fenología reproductora ha sido confirmado en muchas especies. Hemos investigado esta variación en la fenología de la la reproducción en una población cantábrica de cormorán moñudo durante la última década. Los resultados demostraron que esta especie había adelantado su fecha de puesta casi 40 días en sólo 10 años. Este avance en la época de la reproducción esta muy ligado al calentamiento registrado durante el último siglo. De todas formas, de todas las variables climáticas estudiadas, sólo el índice de anomalía térmica mostró una correlación positiva con la fecha de puesta, mientras que los efectos del NAO y de temperatura superficial del mar (SST) no fueron significativos. Esto sugiere que en este caso, los efectos de las condiciones locales tienen más efecto sobre la fecha de puesta que los efectos climáticos a gran escala.

Anisakid infection in the European shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis aristotelis

Abollo, E., Gestal, C. e Pascual, S., 2001. Anisakid infection in the European shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis aristotelis. Journal of Helminthology, 75(3), pp.209-214.

A total of 100 specimens of the European shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis aristotelis were examined for anisakid infections in the south-east North Atlantic. The taxonomic status of the anisakid nematodes was studied by structural analysis using light and scanning electron microscopy. Two species, Contracaecum septentrionale and C. rudolphii A (Nematoda: Ascaridoidea), occurred in the European shag with high values of prevalence and mean intensities of infection. These constitute new host records for both parasites, widening their known geographical distribution. Although the histopathology associated with the infections indicated that the anisakids did not have the potential to cause bird death, the parasites are capable of contributing to and hastening avian mortality in the case of heavily-parasitized cormorants and when stressed by xenobiotics and/or through a synergetic effect by other bioagressors.

Complex demographic heterogeneity from anthropogenic impacts in a coastal marine predator

Oro, D., Álvarez, D. e Velando, A., 2018. Complex demographic heterogeneity from anthropogenic impacts in a coastal marine predator. Ecological Applications.

Environmental drivers, including anthropogenic impacts, affect vital rates of organisms. Nevertheless, the influence of these drivers may depend on the physical features of the habitat and how they affect life history strategies depending on individual covariates such as age and sex. Here, the long‐term monitoring (1994–2014) of marked European Shags (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) in eight colonies in two regions with different ecological features, such as foraging habitat, allowed us to test several biological hypotheses about how survival changes by age and sex in each region by means of multi‐event capture–recapture modeling. Impacts included fishing practices and bycatch, invasive introduced carnivores and the severe Prestige oil spill. Adult survival was constant but, unexpectedly, it was different between sexes. This difference was opposite in each region. The impact of the oil spill on survival was important only for adults (especially for females) in one region and lasted a single year. Juvenile survival was time dependent but this variability was not synchronized between regions, suggesting a strong signal of regional environmental variability. Mortality due to bycatch was also different between sex, age and region. Interestingly the results showed that the size of the fishing fleet is not necessarily a good proxy for assessing the impact of bycatch mortality, which may be more dependent on the fishing grounds and the fishing gears employed in each season of the year. Anthropogenic impacts affected survival differently by age and sex, which was expected for a long‐lived organism with sexual size dimorphism. Strikingly, these differences varied depending on the region, indicating that habitat heterogeneity is demographically important to how environmental variability (including anthropogenic impacts) and resilience influence population dynamics.

Maternal programming of offspring antipredator behavior in a seabird

Morales, J., Lucas, A. e Velando, A., 2018. Maternal programming of offspring antipredator behavior in a seabird. Behavioral Ecology, arx197,

Predation risk is an important environmental factor for animal populations, expected to trigger maternal effects to prepare offspring for living in an environment with predators. Yet, evidence of adaptive anticipatory maternal effects in wild animals is still weak. Here, we explored this question in a wild colony of yellow-legged gulls, Larus michahellis. To this aim, prior to laying we exposed mothers to either mink decoys or nonpredator rabbit decoys and explored the antipredator behavior of 118 chicks at the age of 2 days. We found that chicks from second-laid eggs by predator-exposed mothers crouched faster after hearing a playback with adult alarm calls than chicks from second-laid eggs by control mothers. Besides, chicks from third-laid eggs by predator-exposed mothers were lighter than control chicks, but this was not due to differences in egg volume. Our results suggest that predator-exposed mothers modified offspring phenotype via eggs to cope with predators, although only in chicks from second-laid eggs. Maternal transference of corticosterone could underlie chick behavioral plasticity. Results support the role of maternal effects as a form of phenotype programming to forewarn offspring about environmental hazards.