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Acute and Chronic Lead Exposure in Four Avian Scavenger Species in Switzerland


Ganz, Kathrin; Jenni, Lukas; Madry, Milena M; Kraemer, Thomas; Jenny, Hannes; Jenny, David (2018). Acute and Chronic Lead Exposure in Four Avian Scavenger Species in Switzerland. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 75(4):566-575.

Abstract

Despite irrefutable evidence of its negative impact on animal behaviour and physiology, lethal and sublethal lead poisoning of wildlife is still persistent and widespread. For scavenging birds, ingestion of ammunition, or fragments thereof, is the major exposure route. In this study, we examined the occurrence of lead in four avian scavengers of Switzerland and how it differs between species, regions, and age of the bird. We measured lead concentration in liver and bone of the two main alpine avian scavengers (golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos and bearded vulture Gypaetus barbatus) over the entire area of the Swiss Alps and two of the main avian scavengers occurring in the lowlands of Switzerland (red kite Milvus milvus and common raven Corvus corax). Of those four species, only the bearded vulture is an obligate scavenger. We found that lead burdens in the two alpine avian scavengers were higher than those found for the same species elsewhere in Europe or North America and reached levels compatible with acute poisoning, whereas lead burdens of the two lowland avian scavengers seemed to be lower. Several golden eagles, but only one red kite with abnormally high bone lead concentrations were found. In all four species, a substantial proportion of birds had elevated levels which presumably represent recent (liver lead levels) or past (bone lead levels) uptake of sublethal doses of lead.

Abstract

Despite irrefutable evidence of its negative impact on animal behaviour and physiology, lethal and sublethal lead poisoning of wildlife is still persistent and widespread. For scavenging birds, ingestion of ammunition, or fragments thereof, is the major exposure route. In this study, we examined the occurrence of lead in four avian scavengers of Switzerland and how it differs between species, regions, and age of the bird. We measured lead concentration in liver and bone of the two main alpine avian scavengers (golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos and bearded vulture Gypaetus barbatus) over the entire area of the Swiss Alps and two of the main avian scavengers occurring in the lowlands of Switzerland (red kite Milvus milvus and common raven Corvus corax). Of those four species, only the bearded vulture is an obligate scavenger. We found that lead burdens in the two alpine avian scavengers were higher than those found for the same species elsewhere in Europe or North America and reached levels compatible with acute poisoning, whereas lead burdens of the two lowland avian scavengers seemed to be lower. Several golden eagles, but only one red kite with abnormally high bone lead concentrations were found. In all four species, a substantial proportion of birds had elevated levels which presumably represent recent (liver lead levels) or past (bone lead levels) uptake of sublethal doses of lead.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Legal Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:340 Law
610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:Toxicology, Pollution, Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis, General Medicine
Language:English
Date:1 November 2018
Deposited On:02 Oct 2018 15:12
Last Modified:04 Oct 2018 01:04
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0090-4341
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s00244-018-0561-7
PubMed ID:30238146

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