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Title: Strontium in fin whale baleen: A potential tracer of mysticete movements across the oceans?
Author: Vighi, Morgana
Borrell Thió, Assumpció
Víkingsson, Gísli
Gunnlaugsson, Th.
Aguilar, Àlex
Keywords: Balenes
Issue Date: 10-Feb-2019
Publisher: Elsevier B.V.
Abstract: Strontium is a metal broadly distributed in oceanic waters, where its concentrations follow gradients mainly driven by oceanographic and biological factors. Studies on terrestrial vertebrates show that Sr can accumulate in mammalian hair in amounts mainly related to the external environment, a property that has been scarcely investigated in aquatic mammals. Cetaceans are marine mammals whose skin is generally hairless, but the species belonging to the mysticete group feed through a filtering apparatus made of keratinous baleen plates that, like hair, grow continuously. During their annual latitudinal migrations, mysticetes cross water masses with variable chemo-physical characteristics that may be reflected in these tissues. In the present study, baleen plates were sampled from 10 fin whales obtained from NW Spain (N = 5) and SW Iceland (N = 5) to investigate Sr concentrations along the plates growth axis. Samples were taken longitudinally at regular 1 cm-intervals on each plate. Sr concentrations, determined through mass spectrometry, ranged from 5 to 40 mg kg−1 and increased from proximal to distal positions along plates. These results suggest a progressive adsorption of Sr on the plate surface, a process that also occurs in mammalian hair. Increasing trends were similar in the two regions but overall concentrations were significantly higher in NW Spain, reflecting different Sr baseline concentrations in the two areas and indicating isolation between the two whale populations. Some oscillations in Sr longitudinal trends were also detected, likely indicating that whales migrate across water masses with different Sr baselines. These results suggest that Sr concentrations in keratinous tissues of marine mammals can be used as ecological tracers of their migrations and habitat use.
Note: Versió postprint del document publicat a:
It is part of: Science of the Total Environment, 2019, vol. 650, p. 1224-1230
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ISSN: 0048-9697
Appears in Collections:Articles publicats en revistes (Biologia Evolutiva, Ecologia i Ciències Ambientals)

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