La Rochelle, France (7 jours/7)

Florence Caurant

From toxic metals to ecological tracers in marine mammals

Since my thesis work on the contamination of pilot whales in the Faroe Islands, I have been interested in the biological and ecological factors that influence the bioaccumulation of trace elements (toxic metals and essential elements) and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in top predators. Mean cadmium concentrations were found to be significantly different according to pilot whale schools and this had suggested that this element could be used as a tracer of the animals’ diet and/or habitat.

Thereafter, through doctoral work that I supervised, stable isotopes of nitrogen and carbon were added as ecological tracers and made possible to identify dietary or habitat segregations among species or within a species such as the common dolphin.

Today, I continue to participate in the study of species contamination as part of the monitoring of the health of populations. Within the Observatory and through the National Stranding Network, I am in charge of setting up a strategy for monitoring the health status of populations in order to determine the pathologies and the main causes of mortality within these populations.

Co-Director of the Pelagis Observatory
Teacher-researcher at the CEBC
Lecturer in ecology at the University of La Rochelle

 +33 (0)5 46 44 99 10 / 05 46 50 76 69

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