Corticosterone hormone as an indicator for environmental mercury stress in migratory versus resident bird species


The goal of this project is to learn more about how migration affects a bird’s reaction to environmental mercury stress. I will be measuring corticosterone (CORT), a stress hormone, as well as mercury in feather samples from a migratory and nonmigratory species. I expect that nonmigratory species will exhibit more mercury but less CORT in their feathers. The constant exposure will naturally select birds that do not overreact to mercury poisoning. Overreaction to mercury tends to lead to reduced reproductive success. Therefore,┬áit acts as a direct selective pressure on birds in mercury-polluted environments. With this information, we can learn more about how mercury pollution in one area affects wildlife on a continental scale.


As of today, I have begun counting what feather samples are available for testing. I am hoping to use feathers from the house wren and the Carolina wren for my migratory and nonmigratory species respectively. Additionally, I am hoping to receive the appropriate training for the mercury lab later this week.

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