Perfluoroalkyl substances in eggs and plasma of an avian top predator, great skua (Stercorarius skua), in the north Atlantic

Eliza H.K. Leat, Sophie Bourgeon, Jude I. Eze, Derek C.G. Muir, Mary Williamson, Jan O. Bustnes, Robert W. Furness, Katrine Borgå

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24 Citations (Scopus)


Temporal, biological, and environmental factors affecting accumulation of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are poorly understood in comparison with legacy lipid-soluble persistent organic pollutants. Temporal and biological comparisons of PFAS concentrations were made in great skuas (Stercorarius skua), a marine apex predator. Concentrations of 16 PFASs were quantified, including C4-C10 perfluorosulfonates (PFSAs), perfluorooctanesulfonamide (PFOSA), and C5-C14 perfluorocarboxylates (PFCAs). Concentrations of PFASs (ng/g wet wt) were significantly higher in eggs collected in Shetland in 2008 compared with 1980 for most compounds. However, the magnitude of the differences was small, with a mean increase of 3 ng/g. Levels of PFASs in great skuas were low compared with those of other seabirds in similar ecological niches; and in contrast to other contaminants measured in the same eggs, concentrations of PFASs did not correlate with trophic level. Concentrations of PFASs in adult plasma were significantly higher in males than in females for most PFASs. This suggests that maternal transfer through egg laying may be a significant mode of elimination of PFASs in female great skuas. The low concentrations of PFASs in eggs and plasma compared with other halogenated organic contaminants and other species suggest that great skuas do not bioaccumulate PFASs to the same extent as some other seabirds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)569-576
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology & Chemistry
Issue number3
Publication statusPrint publication - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Marine
  • Maternal transfer
  • Temporal change
  • Trophic level
  • Wildlife


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