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Using an apex predator for large-scale monitoring of trace element contamination: Associations with environmental, anthropogenic and dietary proxies

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  • Alexander Badry, Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Høgskoleringen 5, 7491 Trondheim, Norway; Aquatic Ecology, University of Duisburg-Essen, Universitätsstr. 5, 45141 Essen, Germany. Electronic address: a.badry@outlook.de., University of Duisburg-Essen
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  • Luis Palma, CIBIO/InBio, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Universidade do Porto, Campus de Vairão, Vila do Conde, Rua Padre Armando Quintas 7, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal.
  • ,
  • Pedro Beja, CIBIO/InBio, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Universidade do Porto, Campus de Vairão, Vila do Conde, Rua Padre Armando Quintas 7, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal; CIBIO/InBio, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Universidade de Lisboa, 1349-017 Lisboa, Portugal., Universidade de Lisboa
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  • Tomasz M Ciesielski, Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Høgskoleringen 5, 7491 Trondheim, Norway.
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  • Andreia Dias, CIBIO/InBio, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Universidade do Porto, Campus de Vairão, Vila do Conde, Rua Padre Armando Quintas 7, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal; Departament de Biologia Evolutiva, Ecologia i Ciències Ambientals, Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Diagonal 643, 08028 Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain., Universitat de Barcelona
  • ,
  • Syverin Lierhagen, Department of Chemistry, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Høgskoleringen 5, 7491 Trondheim, Norway.
  • ,
  • Bjørn Munro Jenssen, Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Høgskoleringen 5, 7491 Trondheim, Norway.
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  • Nicolas Sturaro, Laboratory of Oceanology, FOCUS, University of Liège, B6C, 4000 Liège, Sart Tilman, Belgium.
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  • Igor Eulaers
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  • Veerle L B Jaspers, Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Høgskoleringen 5, 7491 Trondheim, Norway. Electronic address: veerle.jaspers@ntnu.no.

Understanding the levels and drivers of contamination in top predators is important for their conservation and eventual use as sentinels in environmental monitoring. Therefore, metals and trace elements were analyzed in feathers of Bonelli's eagles (Aquila fasciata) from southern Portugal in 2007-2013, where they are believed to be exposed to a wide range of contamination sources such as agricultural land uses, urban areas, active and abandoned mines and a coal-fired power plant. We focused on concentrations of aluminum (Al), arsenic (As), copper (Cu), chromium (Cr), mercury (Hg), lead (Pb), selenium (Se) and zinc (Zn), as these contaminants are potentially associated with those sources and are known to pose a risk for terrestrial vertebrates. Stable isotope values of nitrogen (δ15N: 15N/14N), carbon (δ13C: 13C/12C) and sulphur (δ34S: 34S/32S) were used as dietary proxies to control for potential effects of prey composition on the contamination pattern. The spatial distribution of potential contamination sources was quantified using geographic information systems. Concentrations of Hg in the southern part of the study area were above a reported toxicity threshold for raptors, particularly in territories closer to a coal-fired power plant at Sines, showing that contamination persisted after a previous assessment conducted in the 1990s. Hg and Se levels were positively correlated with δ15N, which indicates biomagnification. Concentrations of As, Cr, Cu, Pb and Zn were generally low and unrelated to mining- or industrial activities, indicating low environmental background concentrations. Al was found at higher concentrations in the southernmost areas of Portugal, but this pattern might be related to external soil contamination on feathers. Overall, this study indicates that, among all elements studied, Hg seems to be the most important contaminant for Bonelli's eagles in southern Portugal, likely due to the power plant emissions and biomagnification of Hg in terrestrial food webs.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftThe Science of the Total Environment
Vol/bind676
Sider (fra-til)746-755
Antal sider10
ISSN0048-9697
DOI
StatusUdgivet - aug. 2019

Bibliografisk note

Copyright © 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

    Forskningsområder

  • biomonitoring, METAL CONTAMINATION, power plant, landfills, mines, stable isotopes

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