In this research project with external evaluation, we will advance our understanding of environmental and ecological drivers of long-term trends of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in a key Arctic sentinel species. Global change is currently inducing drastic changes in the Arctic ecosystem, which are highly suspected to ultimately impact contaminant exposure and health risks in Arctic wildlife. The proposed project focuses on the black-legged kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla), a key Arctic species chronically exposed to a complex cocktail of harmful contaminants known to impact individual fitness and population dynamics. The proposed project relies upon long-term and fruitful collaboration during the last two decades between four institutions in the Fram Centre and one international partner. As such, the project will benefit from an extensive and unique collection of collected and analysed samples to describe and assess long-term trends of legacy POPs in Svalbard kittiwakes over 15 years. In addition, the proposed project will attempt to identify the role of biological factors, dietary ecology, climate change, oceanographic conditions and global emission trends of POPs in shaping the magnitude and profile of POP exposure in Svalbard kittiwakes. Altogether, the resulting dataset and insights will significantly benefit the multidisciplinary framework and modelling exercises under development in the COPE project (funded by the Research Council of Norway, 2019-2024). The results will be communicated through peer-reviewed articles, international conferences and popular scientific articles. The project will educate one MSc student. The present application is supported by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme.
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