A global overview of exposure levels and biological effects of trace elements in penguins

Winfred Espejo, José E. Celis, Daniel González-Acuña, Andiranel Banegas, Ricardo Barra, Gustavo Chiang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Trace elements are chemical contaminants that can be present almost anywhere on the planet. The study of trace elements in biotic matrices is a topic of great relevance for the implications that it can have on wildlife and human health. Penguins are very useful, since they live exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere and represent about 90% of the biomass of birds of the Southern Ocean. The levels of trace elements (dry weight) in different biotic matrices of penguins were reviewed here. Maps of trace element records in penguins were included. Data on exposure and effects of trace elements in penguins were collected from the literature. The most reported trace elements in penguins are aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, copper, zinc, and manganese. Trace elements have been measured in 11 of the 18 species of penguins. The most studied biotic matrices are feathers and excreta. Most of the studies have been performed in Antarctica and subantarctic Islands. Little is known about the interaction among metals, which could provide better knowledge about certain mechanisms of detoxification in penguins. Future studies of trace elements in penguins must incorporate other metals such as vanadium, cobalt, nickel, and chromium. Data of metals in the species such as Eudyptes pachyrhynchus, Eudyptes moseleyi, Eudyptes sclateri, Eudyptes robustus, Eudyptes schlegeli, Spheniscus demersus, Spheniscus mendiculus, and Megadyptes antipodes are urged. It is important to correlate levels of metals in different biotic matrices with the effects on different species and in different geographic locations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
PublisherSpringer New York LLC
Number of pages64
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameReviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
ISSN (Print)0179-5953

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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