Project title:

" Mercury Contamination in Wild Birds in Latvia: Current Patterns and Reconstruction of Previous Trends "

Project contract number:


Project implementation deadline:

01.01.2021. - 31.12.2023.

Total project funding:

300 000.00 EUR

Research manager:

Rita Veilande (Laboratory of Theoretical Physics)

Project administrator:

Inga Šīrante

Project research group:

Rita Veilande (UL IAPS)

Atis Skudra (UL IAPS)

Māris Strazds (UL Institute of Biology)

Zanda Gavare (UL IAPS)

Anda Ābola (student, University of Latvia)

Egils Bogans (student, University of Latvia)

Kristiāna Rancāne (student, University of Latvia)

Zanda Briķe (student, University of Latvia)

About the project:

The project focuses on the determination of mercury concentration in the environment of Latvia using bird related items (such as eggshells and moulted feathers) as monitoring indicators. Sub-target of this project is to find the cause of elevated mercury level in Black Stork population in Latvia, alongside investigating the presence of other pollutants in the habitat of the Black Storks and other Wild Birds in Latvia. Previous research indicates that there is very high concentration of Hg in the blood of juvenile Black storks and in the liver of dead juveniles (even 1054 ppb). During the project, the nest inspections will be done to collect more than 200 pieces both, eggshells and moulted feathers, from Black Storks in various parts of the country, inclusive nests, located in vicinity of the major Cement factory operating in Latvia. For mercury concentration measurements in the artifacts, highly sensitive Zeeman absorption devices will be used and further developed. This method ensures high accuracy of the Hg detection ruling out the interference from other elements and complexes. To improve the detection limits, new light sources filled with mercury isotope will be manufactured and optimized. As a result, the reconstruction of pollution with the mercury, and other contaminant concentration trends in environment in Latvia over the last decade will be established.