Contrasting time trends of organic contaminants in Antarctic pelagic and benthic food webs

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We demonstrate that pelagic Antarctic seabirds show significant decreases in concentrations of some persistent organic pollutants. Trends in Adélie penguins and Southern fulmars fit in a general pattern revealed by a broad literature review. Downward trends are also visible in pelagic fish, contrasting sharply with steady or increasing concentrations in Antarctic benthic organisms. Transfer of contaminants between Antarctic pelagic and benthic food webs is associated with seasonal sea-ice dynamics which may influence the balance between the final receptors of contaminants under different climatic conditions. This complicates the predictability of future trends of emerging compounds in the Antarctic ecosystem, such as of the brominated compounds that we detected in Antarctic petrels. The discrepancy in trends between pelagic and benthic organisms shows that Antarctic biota are still final receptors of globally released organic contaminants and it remains questionable whether the total environmental burden of contaminants in the Antarctic ecosystem is declining.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-132
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • arctic marine ecosystem
  • south polar skua
  • ross-sea
  • organochlorine pollutants
  • chlorinated hydrocarbons
  • catharacta-maccormicki
  • melting glaciers
  • temporal trends
  • probable source
  • adelie penguin


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