The concentration of 12 elements (As, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Hg, Mn, Ni, Pb, Se, and Zn) has been investigated in the feathers of three species of Ardeidae, namely the Grey Heron Ardea cinerea, the Little Egret Egretta garzetta, and the Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis, all breeding at a colony located in the southern Padana Plain (NW Italy). This study is a first step for an evaluation of possible direct effects of these elements on chicks’ survival and growth rate. Fe, Zn, Cu, and Mn were in the range 7–69 mg Kg−1, while lower levels of Pb, Ni, As, and Se (0.27–1.45 mg Kg−1 ) were measured. Co, Cd, and Cr were close to the method detection limits (MDLs) in all the species. The measured concentrations of the most abundant trace elements, such as Zn and Cu, seem to reflect the geochemical pattern of the background (running water and soil), while Hg concentration is lower and it appears to be biomagnified, particularly in Grey Heron feathers. Its concentration is higher in adults than in chicks, and it differs among the three species, as it is closely related to the fish-based dietary pattern. The measured trace elements’ concentrations are below the threshold levels in all the heron species, and consequently, harmful and acute effects on the local population are unlikely; the conservation status of herons populations in northern Italy is probably more affected by other factors, such as climate changes, altered aquatic environment, and, consequently, food quality.

Evidence of low-habitat contamination using feathers of three heron species as a biomonitor of inorganic elemental pollution

Canova L.;Sturini M.;Profumo A.;Maraschi F.
2020

Abstract

The concentration of 12 elements (As, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Hg, Mn, Ni, Pb, Se, and Zn) has been investigated in the feathers of three species of Ardeidae, namely the Grey Heron Ardea cinerea, the Little Egret Egretta garzetta, and the Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis, all breeding at a colony located in the southern Padana Plain (NW Italy). This study is a first step for an evaluation of possible direct effects of these elements on chicks’ survival and growth rate. Fe, Zn, Cu, and Mn were in the range 7–69 mg Kg−1, while lower levels of Pb, Ni, As, and Se (0.27–1.45 mg Kg−1 ) were measured. Co, Cd, and Cr were close to the method detection limits (MDLs) in all the species. The measured concentrations of the most abundant trace elements, such as Zn and Cu, seem to reflect the geochemical pattern of the background (running water and soil), while Hg concentration is lower and it appears to be biomagnified, particularly in Grey Heron feathers. Its concentration is higher in adults than in chicks, and it differs among the three species, as it is closely related to the fish-based dietary pattern. The measured trace elements’ concentrations are below the threshold levels in all the heron species, and consequently, harmful and acute effects on the local population are unlikely; the conservation status of herons populations in northern Italy is probably more affected by other factors, such as climate changes, altered aquatic environment, and, consequently, food quality.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11571/1353255
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