Pollutants in Arctic geese and their eggs (GeesePOP)

The aim of this project is to determine how pollutants in barnacle geese (Branta leucopsis) in Svalbard are transferred from mother to egg, and identify the mechanisms involved behind this process. We wish to sample female geese and eggs in Kongsfjorden during the breeding season between May and June 2016.

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Project type

  • field work
  • arctic field grant (afg)


  • terrestrial biology

Project Keywords

  • biosphere / ecological dynamics / ecotoxicology
  • biosphere / terrestrial ecosystems / alpine/tundra
  • biological classification / animals/vertebrates / birds

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Little is known about the terrestrial ecosystem in the Arctic, and to our knowledge, no published study has measured pollutant levels in migratory geese that utilise these areas for breeding, such as the barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis). We expect that the time of arrival or egg laying date at Svalbard breeding grounds will determine from where an individual acquires her energy, and how she allocates these resources towards egg production. Consequently, we expect that pollutants will reflect this pattern, especially those that are associated with energy storage. We will determine the barnacle goose’s dietary source (stable isotopes) and measure pollutant levels both in the mother and her eggs (PCB, MeHg and PFAS). We aim to address several knowledge gaps highlighted by the Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund, and wish to combine this project with an Arctic Field Grant. We hope the information gained from this project will further our understanding on the distribution of pollutants in the Arctic, as well as promote support for continued research and protection of the environment in Svalbard.

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