© Melissa King

When scientist David Evers of the Biodiversity Research Institute in Gorham, Maine, saw the latest data on mercury from Vermont's Green Mountains, he was amazed. The data showed for the first time that insect-eating forest song birds were contaminated with mercury. The highest mercury concentrations were in Bicknell's thrush, the species ranked as the highest conservation priority in the Northeast. Believing he had found the "canary in the coal mine" of a broader mercury problem, Evers launched a four-year monitoring project with colleagues in Vermont and Canada. Their disturbing findings were published in the April issue of Ecotoxicology1: The measured mercury levels in forest songbirds were high enough to potentially interfere with their reproduction.

Mercury has long been known to be a threat to human health and the environment, but here was research showing the threat to be even broader. Evers and his colleagues published...

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