Permanent URL to this publication: http://dx.doi.org/10.5167/uzh-14508
Dip, R; Hegglin, D; Deplazes, P; Dafflon, O; Koch, H; Naegeli, H (2003). Age- and sex-dependent distribution of persistent organochlorine pollutants in urban foxes. Environmental Health Perspectives, 111(13):1608-1612.
The colonization of urban and suburban habitats by red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) provides a novel sentinel species to monitor the spread of anthropogenic pollutants in densely populated human settlements. Here, red foxes were collected in the municipal territory of Zürich, Switzerland, and their perirenal adipose tissue was examined for persistent organochlorine residues. This pilot study revealed an unexpected pattern of contamination by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), with significantly higher levels of the predominant congeners PCB-138, PCB-153, and PCB-180 in juvenile foxes relative to adult animals. Further data analysis demonstrated that the observed difference was attributable to an age-dependent reduction of PCB concentrations in females, whereas male foxes retained approximately the same PCB burden throughout their life span. A similar sex-related bias between population members has been observed, primarily in marine mammals. Interestingly, the reduction of organochlorine contents with progressive age is reminiscent of human studies, where an extensive maternal transfer of xenobiotics to the offspring has been shown to result in increased exposure levels of infants relative to adults. To our knowledge, this is the first example of an urban wildlife species that faithfully reflects the dynamic distribution of toxic contaminants in the corresponding human population. Suburban and urban foxes occupy habitats in close proximity to humans, depend on anthropogenic food supplies, are relatively long-lived and readily available for sampling, can be easily aged and sexed, have a limited home range, and, therefore, meet several important requirements to serve as a surrogate species for the assessment of toxic health hazards.
|Item Type:||Journal Article, refereed, original work|
|Communities & Collections:||05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Institute of Parasitology|
04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Parasitology
05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Institute of Veterinary Pharmacology and Toxicology
|DDC:||570 Life sciences; biology|
610 Medicine & health
|Date:||28 July 2003|
|Deposited On:||25 Mar 2009 08:18|
|Last Modified:||23 Nov 2012 17:08|
|Publisher:||National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences|
|Funders:||Swiss Federal Office of Veterinary Medicine|
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