Concentration of fifty-six elements in excreta of penguins from the Antarctic Peninsula area

José E. Celis, Winfred Espejo, Gustavo Chiang, Daiki Kitamura, Shosaku Kashiwada, Nelson J. O'Driscoll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Seabird feces as indicators of the exposure to environmental contaminants have been studied worldwide. Penguins are indicator species for marine pollution, but their role as biovectors of rare earth elements (REEs) to ecosystems have been little studied. The present study quantified the concentration of REEs and trace elements (TEs) in feces of gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis papua). Adult penguin excreta from Fildes Bay (King George Island) and Yelcho Base (Palmer Archipelago) were collected and then analyzed by ICP-MS. Among REEs, levels ranged from 0.0038 to 1.02 μg g−1 d.w. for Lu and Ce, respectively. For TEs, the levels varied widely through the sample set, with Al, Fe, Sr, Zn and Ti as the highest mean levels, particularly at Fildes Bay. The data show that gentoo penguins act as a biovector organism by transporting TEs and REEs from the sea to land via excreta, reaffirming that this species acts as an important biovector organism in Antarctic ecosystems. The potential impacts of this process on Antarctic ecosystems needs further research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115133
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


  • Emerging contaminants
  • Excrement
  • Heavy metals
  • REEs
  • Seabirds
  • Southern Hemisphere
  • Trace elements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution


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