Historically impacted by anthropogenic activities, the nature reserve of Doñana (SW Spain) was affected by an unprecedented spillage of mud and acidic water from the Aznalcóllar pyrite mine in April 1998. Although several studies have addressed the influence of this spill on soils, water, and biota, there is little information on mammals, especially carnivorous species. We measured the concentrations of Fe, Mg, Pb, Hg, Cd, Zn, Cu, Mn, Mo, Co, and Cr in specimens of the greater white-toothed shrew, Crocidura russula, inhabiting the protected area affected by the mine spillage. We also examined other parameters to approach at the physiological effects of pollution. We found an increase in non-essential metals (Pb, Cd, and Hg), and morphometric, histological and genotoxic alterations. Age and gender were two significant factors explaining metal bioaccumulation: adults had higher Hg and Cd levels than juveniles, whereas males bioaccumulated more Pb and Co and less Mo than females. The micronucleus frequencies in blood erythrocytes were significantly higher in specimens from the polluted site than animals from the control site. Shrews from the impacted area also had hepatic alterations, namely increased liver-body ratio, focal necrosis, and signs of apoptosis in hepatocytes. Due to the relevance of small mammals in the diet of endangered species such as carnivorous birds and mammals, the findings of our study are of practical use for the management of the Doñana wildlife reserve and other protected Mediterranean wetlands. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jul 2009|
- Heavy metals
- Morphometric parameters
- Protected areas