Heavy metals in livers of waterbirds from Spain

R. Mateo, R. Guitart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Wetlands tend to accumulate heavy metals from local sources, such as Pb shot used for waterfowl hunting, and from regional sources, such as atmospheric deposition and riverine or marine inputs. We determined concentrations of six heavy metals (Cr, Mn, Cu, Zn, Cd, and Pb) in livers of waterbirds shot by hunters in five Spanish wetlands to study the different factors that can contribute to the accumulation of these metals (sex, age, diet, grit, and Pb shot ingestion). Differences among wetlands were observed only for Cr, Cu, and Cd. Differences among species were observed for all the metals, and Cu was notably higher in pochards (Aythya and Netta genus) than in other waterfowl. Cu, Zn, and Cd concentrations increased with age, and only Pb showed differences related to sex, with males having higher concentrations than females. Most metals other than Pb were correlated with each other. Lead was dependent on Pb shot ingestion. Grit ingestion positively correlated with concentrations of Cr and to a lesser extent with Mn, Zn, and Cd. Ingestion of grit or shot may obscure relationships between metals and diet. Herbivorous species, which had more grit in the gizzard, had higher Cr, Zn, and Cd concentrations. Granivorous birds, which have the highest rates of Pb shot ingestion, had the highest concentrations of Pb. Grit and Pb shot ingestion are both important sources of heavy metals for waterbirds. Lead was the single metal studied whose concentrations exceeded toxicity thresholds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-404
JournalArchives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2003


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