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Mercury poses a rising threat to Arctic birds
ivory gull
Concentrations of mercury in ivory gull feathers increased nearly 50-fold in 130 years.

Contaminant may be the cause of ivory gull declines

Rising exposure to mercury could be the cause of rapid declines in Arctic bird populations, particularly ivory gulls, according to new research.

Ivory gull populations have fallen by more than 80 per cent in Canada since the 1980s, leaving just 400-500 breeding pairs. However, the reasons for this are not well understood.

Biologists from Canada's University of Saskatchewan aimed to find out whether contaminants are to blame by analysing the burden of methyl mercury in feathers over the past 130 years.

Using feathers from museum specimens spanning 1877-2007, researchers found concentrations of mercury had increased nearly 50-fold, despite no evidence of dietary change during this period.

Writing in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B- Biological Sciences, the authors say: "Methyl mercury (MeHG) in ivory gull feathers increased significantly over the past 130 years, despite the lack of evidence of a shift in diet.

"We attribute this increase to increases in the amount of mercury (HG) in the environment that has been observed post-industrially and attributed to human activity."

With oceanic mercury expected to rise four-fold between 2005-2050, the findings have prompted concerns about continued dramatic declines in ivory gull  populations, as well as other high-latitude species.

For the full report, visit: http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/282/1805/20150032

Image © jomilo75/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

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AWF Student Grant open for submissions

News Story 1
 Applications are open for the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) Student Grant Scheme for innovative research projects designed to impact animal welfare.

Undergraduate and postgraduate students of veterinary science, veterinary nursing, agriculture studies and animal welfare are invited to submit their proposals to undertake research projects next year.

Grants are decided based on the project’s innovation, relevance to topical animal welfare issues and ability to contribute towards raising animal welfare standards. For more information visit animalwelfarefoundation.org.uk.  

Click here for more...
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SPANA film highlights plight of working animals overseas

Animal welfare charity SPANA (The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad) has teamed up with Brian Blessed and other famous voices to highlight the plight of working animals overseas.

In a new animated film, the celebrities raise awareness by showing the solidarity of the UK's own working animals on strike. A sniffer dog (Brian Blessed), police horse (Peter Egan) and sheepdog (Deborah Meaden) are shown ignoring their duties and protesting in solidarity with animals in developing countries.

SPANA chef executive Geoffrey Dennis said: "We are so grateful to Deborah, Peter and Brian for lending their voices to our new film, and for speaking up for millions of working animals overseas. SPANA believes that a life of work should not mean a life of suffering, and it is only thanks to people’s generosity and support that we can continue our vital work improving the lives of these animals."