Mercury (Hg) is a ubiquitous contaminant in wetlands that can cause immunosuppression in birds, which may increase susceptibility to colonization with Salmonella spp. Previously, we found that White Ibis (Eudocimus albus), a recently urbanized wading bird, shed Salmonella spp. at a higher prevalence when captured at urban sites, compared with natural sites. In this study, we sought to determine if Hg burdens in ibis are related to Salmonella status or degree of urbanization or both. We analyzed feathers from 94 ibis in Palm Beach County, Florida, USA, along an urbanization gradient (0–68% urbanization) and from individuals with confirmed Salmonella spp. status (shedding or not shedding). We detected Hg in all ibis feathers (0.22–8.47 mg/kg; mean=1.96 mg/kg; SD=1.94). The Hg concentration was not significantly correlated to Salmonella spp. shedding status (Wilcoxon rank sum test, W=1170; P=0.596) but was negatively associated with capture site urbanization level (R2=0.327; P=0.026). Our findings may suggest that the immunosuppressive effects of Hg do not affect Salmonella shedding in the ibis or that Hg burdens were too low to affect Salmonella shedding status. Further, ibis that were captured in high urbanization sites appeared to have a lower risk of Hg exposure than ibis that were captured within low urbanization sites.

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