Esteban Góngora

McGill University
M.Sc. candidate

Supervisor: Kyle Elliott
Lyle Whyte, McGill University
Start: 2016-09-02
End: 2018-12-21
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Characterization of the Microbiome of Thick-billed Murres and its Association with Prey Specialization and Mercury
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.


birds, bactéries, Microbiome, ecotoxicology


1- Toxic metals and associated sporulated bacteria on Andean hummingbird feathers
Góngora, Esteban, Carlos Daniel Cadena, Jenny Dussán
2016 Environmental Science and Pollution Research

2- Nitrogen and sulfur isotopes predict variation in mercury levels in Arctic seabird prey
Góngora, Esteban, Birgit M. Braune, Kyle H. Elliott
2018 Marine Pollution Bulletin