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I. Objectives: I.1. To determine the normal range of values (natural variability due to time of year, age, gender) for basic nutritional and health parameters (blubber characteristics, essential and non-essential elements, structure of basic tissues) in the bowhead whale. a. Blubber thickness (depth and girth), chemical composition (lipids, water, calories), and tissue structure (light microscopy and special stains) will be assessed. b. Essential and non-essential elements (heavy metals) will be measured in liver and kidney. c. Tissue structure (light microscopy) characteristics obviously related to nutritional status in liver (glycogen, lipid and lipofuscin stores), pancreas (zymogen granules), and intestine (mucosal microvilli) and any evidence of inactivity/atrophy will be examined. d. Documentation of "normal" structure of basic tissues and evaluation for evidence of disease will also be conducted. I.2. Using data from Objective 1 to identify the parameters most important in assaying the health status of other mysticetes residing in the Bering Sea or Western Arctic that are harvested or stranded. I.3. Using data from Objective 1 to help determine the role of the bowhead whale as an indicator of ecosystem health and development of an optimized protocol for assessing mysticete health for the Bering Sea and Western Arctic, and other regions.
To monitor levels of pollutants in merlin by analysis of POPs and heavy metals in eggs and feathers. /Feathers and addled eggs of merlin were collected in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1999 and 2000 for chemical analysis of POPs and heavy metals. Comparisons with eggs from museum collections show that there has been a significant shell thinning in eggs of Norwegian merlins. From 1947 up to 1990 the eggs were on average ca. 15% thinner than normal and after 1990 the thinning has been ca. 10%. There are still high concentrations of DDE to reduce reproductive output in some cases. The PCB levels are low compared to the DDE levels and the concentrations of other chlorinated hydrocarbons are also low. Results from mercury analyses indicate possible effects on breeding performance in some adults.
The first part of the present study evaluated tissue concentrations of twelve essential and non-essential elements in four arctic marine mammal species important as subsistence resources to indigenous Alaskans. Species sampled included: bowhead whales, beluga whales, ringed seals, and polar bears. Concentrations of As, Cd, Co, Cu, Pb, Mg, Mn, Hg, Mo, Se, Ag, and Zn, were analyzed in liver, kidney, muscle, blubber, and epidermis (the latter in cetaceans only). Elements that were identified as having tissue concentrations, which in domesticated species would have been considered higher than normal and/or even toxic, were Cd, Hg, Ag, and Se. However, the concentrations of these elements were consistent with previous reports for arctic marine mammals. Remaining elements were at concentrations within normal ranges for domesticated species, although Cu was found frequently at concentrations that would be considered marginal or deficient in terrestrial domesticated animals. Across-species comparisons revealed that Cd was highest in kidney, followed by liver in all four species. Its concentrations were frequently correlated with Cu, Zn, Hg, and Se. Cadmium accumulated with age in bowhead and beluga whales, especially in liver and kidney. The relationships between Cd and Hg, and between Cd and Se were believed to be due to mutual accretion with age, although direct interactions could not be ruled out, especially with respect to Cd and Se. Associations between Cd and Cu, and Cd and Zn were potentially attributable to mutual binding with the inducible protein, metallothionein. This assumption was supported by the observation that Cd:Zn ratios in liver and kidney displayed a significant linear relationship to age and that this ratio either increased slightly (in kidney and liver of bowheads) or remained constant (in kidney and liver of belugas) with age. In general, Se was highest in liver and kidney of all four species, where it was frequently at concentrations that would have been deemed elevated or toxic for domesticated species, although within ranges previously reported for arctic marine mammals. Selenium increased with age indices, and was highly correlated with Hg, and often with Cd as well. Mercury also increased with age, and liver contained the highest tissue concentration in the cetacean and pinniped species. The pattern of Se accumulation in polar bears differed, with highest concentrations found in kidney, which suggested that this tissue may be the primary site for Hg detoxification in this species, as is the case for terrestrial mammals. Compared to the other three species, bowhead whales had very low Hg concentrations in all tissues. The highly significant linear relationship between Hg and Se noted in various tissues (particularly liver) of all four species was presumed due to binding of these two elements to each other following demethylation of MHg. This assumption was supported by the observations that while Se and Hg both accumulated with age, the fraction of total Hg that was composed of MHg decreased with age. The quantity that represented the difference between total Hg measured directly and calculated total Hg [i.e., SHg = Hg(II) + MHg], also increased with age in beluga liver. This connoted that a portion of the total Hg present was in an organic form other than MHg, and that this form accumulated with age. Alternatively, this portion, which was apparently not measured by either the Hg(II) or MHg procedures, may have been lost during extraction. Species in this study had mean hepatic Hg:Se molar ratios that were below unity. This implies that Hg concentrations may have been below some threshold level, after which subsequent accumulation proceeds in a 1:1 molar ratio fashion with Se. Alternatively, it might suggest that a 1:1 Hg:Se molar ratio is not a prerequisite for protection from Hg toxcosis among marine mammals, because none of the animals in the present study exhibited lesions typically associated with Hg toxicosis. In beluga liver, concentrations of Ag were elevated when compared to domesticated species. The only element that showed a significant linear association to Ag was Cu—a relationship that was observed in all four species. This suggested that Ag and Cu may be associated through a common ligand, possibly metallothionein. The association between Ag and Se in beluga liver was less strong than that between Hg and Se; moreover, Ag did not increase with age. These findings indicate that Ag probably does not compete with Hg for Se binding, and therefore is unlikely to substantially inhibit detoxification of Hg in beluga whales. In the second portion of this research, tissues from bowhead whales, beluga whales and ringed seals were examined at both the gross and light microscopic level. The purpose of this evaluation was three-fold: to describe the normal histologic appearance of tissues; to perform a routine histologic survey of tissues that would contribute to a general health assessment, and; to scrutinize tissues for lesions that might support a diagnosis of toxicosis caused by Cd, Hg, Ag, or Se. Tissues examined were chosen on the basis of their propensity to be targets for toxicologic injury from the specified elements (with the exception of brain) and included, but were not limited to, the tissues analyzed chemically. Special stains were used to identify particular pigments or tissue components. Overall, the bowhead whales evaluated appeared healthy and had low parasite burdens. The most common lesion, which was observed in all bowheads, was a non-inflammatory chronic renal periglomerular and interstitial fibrosis. This lesion was not typical of Cd-induced nephropathy, and it did not appear to be associated with renal Cd burdens. Nevertheless, thresholds of Cd-induced renal injury are not known for cetacean species, and more whales need to be examined histologically in conjunction with analysis of tissue Cd residues. Acute myodegeneration was observed in cardiac and/or skeletal muscle of a few bowheads, and was presumed to reflect a hunting-induced exertional myopathy. The beluga whales examined were generally in good body condition and appeared healthy grossly, but they had much higher parasite burdens than bowhead whales. In particular, prevalence in belugas of pulmonary nematodiasis was high, being especially common among whales obtained from Pt. Hope compared to those from Pt. Lay. Grossly, firm, caseous nodules were associated with lungworms, while histologically, the associated pulmonary changes ranged from mild chronic inflammation and focal granuloma formation to catarrhal granulomatous and eosinophilic verminous bronchopneumonia. Another change observed in some belugas and believed to be associated with lungworm infection, was multifocal pulmonary arterial medial hypertrophy and degeneration. Beluga whales harvested at Pt. Lay (summer) frequently showed evidence of hepatic and pancreatic atrophy, while whales taken at Pt. Hope (spring) did not. This was believed to result from anorexia during migration—a supposition corroborated by the lack of stomach contents among Pt. Lay whales. Another prominent histologic finding among belugas was hepatic telangectasia, which occurred with significantly greater frequency and severity in Pt. Hope belugas than in those from Pt. Lay. The etiology and significance of this lesion could be not be ascertained, although it was not believed to be associated with any of the elements analyzed in this study. Mild thickening of Bowman’s capsule was seen frequently in belugas. However, this lesion was not typical of Hg or Cd-induced nephropathies, and did not appear correlated with kidney concentrations of these metals. This lesion was believed to be a normal consequence of aging in belugas, although a metal etiology for it could not be excluded irrefutably. In general, ringed seals were in good body condition and appeared healthy on gross examination. Among seals evaluated histologically, the most common finding was a mild, chronic, focal or periportal hepatitis, with focal hepatocellular necrosis sometimes apparent. Although a metal etiology for this lesion could not be definitively ruled out, in the absence of other lesions that would support a diagnosis of metal toxicosis, an infectious etiology was considered more credible. Two out of sixteen seals had embryologic remnants (an epidermoid cyst and an ultimobranchial cyst)—lesions that are usually considered incidental. While no toxic (metal or otherwise) etiology could be ascertained for these lesions, the incidence of retained embryologic remnants seemed high. A number of xenobiotics are known to be endocrine-disruptors, and the potential for such an etiology among these seals should be examined further. Lipofuscin deposition was ubiquitous among all three species examined histologically. Lipofuscin was most prevalent in hepatocytes, but also commonly was observed in various other tissue and cell types, especially in cardiac and skeletal myocytes, and in uriniferous tubular epithelial cells. The third portion of this study employed autometallographic (AMG) development of light microscopic tissue sections to amplify and localize deposition of inorganic Hg in liver and kidney of beluga and bowhead whales. No staining occurred among bowhead tissues, confirming the extremely low concentration of Hg determined through chemical analyses. In beluga kidney sections, AMG granules were seen throughout the uriniferous tubular epithelium, showing that Hg deposits throughout the nephric tubule, and not solely in the proximal tubular epithelium. In liver tissue, AMG granules were deposited primarily in periportal regions among whales with lower hepatic Hg burdens. In addition to periportal deposition, AMG granules were observed in pericentral and mid-zonal regions in the belugas sampled that had higher liver Hg concentrations (generally older animals). Granules were densely concentrated in stellate macrophages, especially near portal triads. Granules also were distributed in hepatocellular cytoplasm, generally concentrated toward the bile cannalicular domain of the cell. Granules were discrete, potentially indicating that Hg was confined within lysosomes. These observations suggested that inorganic Hg deposits initially in periportal regions of young animals, with subsequent accumulation occurring pericentrally, and finally, midzonally as the whales age. Computer-assisted densitometric analysis was used for semi-quantitative evaluation of AMG staining intensities. These AMG staining intensities were well correlated with concentrations of Hg determined via chemical analysis. Areas with AMG-staining were identified and compared with location of lipofuscin in the same field, visualized with fluorescent microscopy. While AMG granules and lipofuscin deposits sometimes were co-localized, they more often were not. In addition, abundant lipofuscin deposition was seen in livers of younger belugas with little to no Hg-catalyzed AMG staining. Also, lipofuscin concentrated predominantly in pericentral regions. These observations suggested that in the healthy marine mammals of this study, marked hepatic lipofuscin deposition most often occurred independently of Hg accumulation. Consequently, hepatic lipofuscin is likely to be a poor indicator of Hg-induced damage in belugas. The abundant lipofuscin deposition in livers of marine mammals was interpreted as most likely denoting a heightened exposure to oxidative stress that is probably inherent to a marine mammalian existence. These oxidative stressors may include a diet high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), alternating hypoxia and abundant oxygenation, and periodic bouts of anorexia associated with migration.
Moose (Alces alces) found dead (FD) and hunter-killed (HK) in 1995 on the north slope of Alaska (Colville River drainage) were evaluated for heavy metal and mineral status. Compared to previous reports for moose and domestic cattle, and data presented here from Alaska moose outside the Colville River area, levels of copper (Cu) were determined to be low in hoof, hair, liver, kidney, rumen contents, and muscle for these north slope moose. Iron (Fe) was low in muscle as well. These findings, in conjunction with evidence of poor calf survival and adult mortality prompted investigation of a mineral deficiency in moose (serum, blood, and hair) captured in the spring of 1996 and 1997. Captured males had higher Ca, Zn and Cu levels in hair than captured females. Female moose hair samples were determined to be low (deficient) in Cu, Ca, Fe, and Se with mean levels (ppm) of 2.77, 599.7, 37.4, and 0.30, respectively. Serum Cu level was low, and to a lesser degree Zn was deficient as well. Whole blood (1997 only) was marginally deficient in Se and all animals were deficient in Cu. Based on whole blood, sera and hair, Cu levels were considered low for moose captured in spring 1996 and 1997 in the Colville River area as compared to published data and other populations evaluated in this study. Low levels of ceruloplasmin activity support this Cu deficiency theory. Evidence indicates that these moose are deficient in Cu and other minerals; however, the remote location precluded sufficient examination of animals to associate this apparent deficiency with direct effects or lesions. Renal levels of Cd increased with age at expected levels.
Population monitoring of Gyrfalcon, Golden Eagle, Willow Grouse and Passerine birds
Study changes in liver concentrations of Cd, Pb, Hg, Cu and Zn in Lagopus lagopus and Tetrao tetrix between the time periods 1990/91 and 2000/01
The aim of the project is to monitor forest health in the border areas between Norway and Russia. The impact on the forest ecosystems in the border areas is varying. In the areas close to the nickel smelter (in Nikel), the damage is serious, while the damage on the Norwegian areas are much less. Here the damage is mostly related to lack of lichen vegetation on birch stems. The moss vegetation in the bottom layer is also influenced. In some cases, when certain weather conditions fell together with high emissions of sulphur dioxide, visible damage has been developed on leaves of shrubs and trees, even on Norwegian territory. Even the emission normally does not cause visible damage on Norwegian territory; chemical influenced is traced over large Norwegian areas
The aim of the project Intensive monitoring of forest ecosystem in an air pollution gradient from Nikel and westwards, running in the period 1994-1998/99, has been to develop and perform environmental monitoring in the border areas between Norway and Russia. The project is a contribution to the joint Norwegian/Russian Environmental Co-operation. Russian scientists have established and performed analyses at four monitoring sites in Russia, while Norwegian scientists have done similar monitoring at adjacent Norwegian areas. The scientists have worked together in two workshops and in the field. The collaboration has been efficient carried out by extensive use of e-mail. An important result for of the project has been harmonised field methodology, which has been put into practice by means of common fieldwork. The impact on the forest ecosystems in the border areas is varying. In the areas close to the nickel smelter (in Nikel), the damage is serious, while the damage on the Norwegian areas are much less. Here the damage is mostly related to lack of lichen vegetation on birch stems. The moss vegetation in the bottom layer is also influenced. In some cases, when certain weather conditions fell together with high emissions of sulphur dioxide, visible damage has been developed on leaves of shrubs and trees, even on Norwegian territory. Even the emission normally does not cause visible damage on Norwegian territory; chemical influenced is traced over large Norwegian areas
In 1990, the Directorate for Nature Management (DN) established an area for integrated monitoring within Børgefjell National Park, Røyrvik, N Trøndelag. Studies of vegetation-environment relationships in the area was performed by NINA. The area includes both subalpine birch forest and low alpine heath. The new established vegetation investigation included all together 80 different species. This material was processed numerically by using multivariate methods. Indirect gradient analyses were performed using Detrended Correspondence Analysis (DCA) and Local Nonmetric Multidimentional Scaling (LNMDS). Direct gradient analyses were performed by using rescaled hybrid Canonical Correspondence Analysis (CCA). Non-parametric correlation analyses, Kendall’s , were performed between environmental parameters and DCA axis values. The results of the numerical and statistical processing were used partly to provide a description of the vegetational structure in the material and partly to quantify how much each ecological parameters contributed to determination of vegetational structure. This work shows the species distribution along various complex gradients; moisture, nutrient conditions, light etc. The investigation is primarily designed to study vegetation dynamics along these gradients and whether changes in the number of species can be related to changes in physical, biotic and, not least, chemical parameters. Variance analysis was performed to assess to what extent the sample plots tends move in a determined direction from 1990 to 1995. The variation between the years were not significant along the primary complex gradients, but there were a significant displacement of species along the following gradients. The most important species were: Vaccinium vitis-idaea, Melampyrum sylvaticum and Hylocomium splendens), which showed an increase and some cryptogams like Brachythecium reflexum, B. salebrosum and Cladonia ecmocyna which declined.
The study covers many areas of ecotoxicology research on polar bears. Monitoring of POP levels and studies of effects on endocrine disruption, immune system, reproduction, and demography are all parts of the study.
The monitoring is focused on risk assessment of LRTAP -type substances in terrestrial foodchains of the Boreal and subarctic environment. The concentration levels in precipitation, in the soil humus and in the indicator species (e.g. red woodants, common shrew) are studied annually in the seven areas locating in the Southern, Middle and Northern Finland. Possible gradients and changes in concentration levels between the Southern and Northern environments will be a part of the base data for risk assessment and pollution development in Finland.
Surface samples collected around Svalbard in 1997 have been analysed for total content of heavy metals, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) and a selection of pesticides. Sample localities have been selected to include areas not covered by previous investigations. Based on the data set and results from previous expeditions in the area, contamination levels as well as potential sources for the pollutants are discussed. The PAH levels for most stations are moderately elevated with a high contribution of aromatic hydrocarbons associated with petrogenic sources. Hence the dominant sources for the PAHs is most likely derived from petroleum seepage and or coal mining. Long-range transport of aromatics associated with anthropogenic input is a minor component of the observed PAH levels. The highest concentration of PAH is found in Storfjorden with a value higher than the elevated concentrations earlier reported from the south-eastern Storfjorden and over the Central Bank. The concentration levels of the metals arsenic, lead, chromium and nickel were moderately elevated. Because of sparse information on the natural geomorphology, background metal concentrations are not known for this area. Hence, no quantitative comparison of natural and anthropogenic inputs for metals can be made. However, the most dominant source is assumed to be natural and related to the geological conditions in the area. All PCB levels were low, suggesting a dominant influence of long-range transport of these compounds to the area. Pesticide data showed low contamination of all compounds and suggests a predominant long-range atmospheric source for these pollutants.
According to the national residue control programme heavy metals (lead, cadmium, mercury) and organochlorine compounds (HCH, HCB, DDT, PCB, etc) are analyzed from the samples. Investigations are done according to the Council Directive 96/23/EC.
Levels of selected contaminants have been determined in sediment, blue mussel, seeweed and fish from harbour areas in Harstad, Tromsø, Hammerfest and Honningsvåg in northern Norway. The following contaminants were included in the study: PAH, PCB, 5CB, HCB, OCS, HCH, DDT, DDE, DDD, TBT, Cd, Cu, Hg, Pb, Zn and Li. A few samples were also analysed for dioxines (PCDD and PCDF), non-ortho PCBs and PCN. The results were compared with the Norwegian State Pollution Control Authorities classification system for marine sediments (Molvær et al. 1997). Elevated (and in most cases very high) levels of most of the measured contaminants were found in all the investigated harbour areas.
Objectives: To determine the temporal and spatial trends and accumulation rates of heavy metals and persistent organic contamineants and to differentiate between natural and anthropogenic sources of heavy metals. Summary: Heavy metal and persistent organic contaminant concentrations and accumulation rate are measured in Pb-210 dated sediment cores of small lakes in different areas of Finnish Lapland.
To investigate the impacts of Russia's military and civilian nuclear activities in the Kola Bay and adjacent areas of the northwest Arctic coast of Russia.
To see whether the features in the annual cycle of mercury is a local phenomena for Alert in the Canadian Arctic or also apply to larger ares in the Arctic. To quantify the concentrations/depositions of biological available mercury (reactive gaseous mercury and particulate mercury) in the Arctic environment during polar sunrise
To monitor concentrations of heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants in air in the Arctic.
The project aims to carry out an environmental assessment of the marine environment close to the three main settlements in the Isfjorden complex; Barentsburg, Longyearbyen and Pyramiden. The study comprises analyses of sediment geochemistry and soft-bottom benthic fauna. Attention is given to distinguishing atmospheric transport of contaminants from those arising from local sources.
To clarify whether metals and/or POPs affect marine fish species - Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) and plaice (Pleuronectes platessa)