Birds are commonly used as bioindicators, and their feathers are considered suitable tissues for assessing the presence of contaminants, such as trace elements, in the environment. In agroecosystems, trace elements’ occurrence can be associated with both natural and anthropogenic processes, including vehicular traffic, traditional fertilizers, food feed additives for livestock, and the use of sewage sludge as fertilizer. Here, we evaluated the concentrations of twelve trace elements (Aluminium, Arsenic, Cadmium, Chromium, Copper, Iron, Mercury, Manganese, Nickel, Lead, Selenium, and Zinc) in the feathers of barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) nestlings. We then compared the concentrations of these elements between nestlings grown in areas amended or not amended with sewage sludge in 2019 and 2020 in a broad region of the Po Plain (Northern Italy). Multivariate analysis showed that the element content of the feathers significantly differed among years and areas, suggesting that the concentration of nestlings’ feathers may indicate the local level of contamination. However, univariate analyses did not show clear spatial differences, possibly due to co-occurring sources of trace elements other than sewage sludge. These results suggest that barn swallow nestlings can be a reliable sentinel for the monitoring of local variation of the environmental occurrence of trace elements

Local Variability of Trace Element Concentration in Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) Nestlings from the Po Plain (Northern Italy)

Luca Canova
Resources
2023-01-01

Abstract

Birds are commonly used as bioindicators, and their feathers are considered suitable tissues for assessing the presence of contaminants, such as trace elements, in the environment. In agroecosystems, trace elements’ occurrence can be associated with both natural and anthropogenic processes, including vehicular traffic, traditional fertilizers, food feed additives for livestock, and the use of sewage sludge as fertilizer. Here, we evaluated the concentrations of twelve trace elements (Aluminium, Arsenic, Cadmium, Chromium, Copper, Iron, Mercury, Manganese, Nickel, Lead, Selenium, and Zinc) in the feathers of barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) nestlings. We then compared the concentrations of these elements between nestlings grown in areas amended or not amended with sewage sludge in 2019 and 2020 in a broad region of the Po Plain (Northern Italy). Multivariate analysis showed that the element content of the feathers significantly differed among years and areas, suggesting that the concentration of nestlings’ feathers may indicate the local level of contamination. However, univariate analyses did not show clear spatial differences, possibly due to co-occurring sources of trace elements other than sewage sludge. These results suggest that barn swallow nestlings can be a reliable sentinel for the monitoring of local variation of the environmental occurrence of trace elements
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11571/1488171
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