Long-term effects of lead poisoning on bone mineralization in vultures exposed to ammunition sources

Publication Year:

Long-lived species are particularly susceptible to bioaccumulation of lead in bone tissues. In this paper we gain insights into the sublethal effects of lead contamination on Egyptian vultures (Neophron percnopterus). Our approach was done on the comparison of two populations (Canary Islands and Iberian Peninsula) differing in exposures to the ingestion of lead ammunition. Blood lead levels were higher in the island population (Canary Islands range: 5.10-1780 microg L(-1) n=137; Iberian Peninsula range: 5.60-217.30 microg L(-1) n=32) showing clear seasonal trends, peaking during the hunting season. Moreover, males were more susceptible to lead accumulation than females. Bone lead concentration increased with age, reflecting a bioaccumulation effect. The bone composition was significatively altered by this contaminant: the mineralization degree decreased as lead concentration levels increased. These results demonstrate the existence of long-term effects of lead poisoning, which may be of importance in the declines of threatened populations of long-lived species exposed to this contaminant.

Publication Title:

Environmental Pollution

Item Type:
Journal Article

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