Populations of generalist species often consist of individuals that are, themselves, specialists. Persistence in gut microbiome over time may be one mechanism underlying specialization in diet. The proposed project will describe, for the first time, the fecal microbiome of the Thick-billed Murre (Uria lomvia). As two-thirds of murres in the Low Arctic are prey specialists, we will attempt to observe how individual prey specialization (IPS) affects the gut microbiome (GM) and how it may influence differential exposure to Hg among specialist individuals. By characterizing the interactions occurring among IPS, GM diversity, and Hg concentrations in murres, we aim to describe the relationship between murres and their environment with a previously unstudied aspect of this system. Studying vertebrate GMs is of importance since they can help provide rapid adaptation to changing environmental conditions— increasing summer temperatures and increasing mercury contamination—currently being observed in the Arctic.
Góngora, Esteban, Carlos Daniel Cadena, Jenny Dussán
2016 Environmental Science and Pollution Research