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Inorganic elements in the livers of Eurasian otters, Lutra lutra, from England and Wales in 2007 & 2008: a Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme (PBMS) report

By L.A. Walker, A.J. Lawlor, E.A. Chadwick, E. Potter, M.G. Pereira and R.F. Shore

Abstract

This is a report on the initial findings of a collaborative study between the Predatory Bird\ud Monitoring Scheme (PBMS) and the Cardiff University Otter Project (CUOP). The study\ud analysed the concentrations of 16 metals and semi-metals in the livers of 107 Eurasian\ud otters (Lutra lutra) that had been found dead in 2007 and 2008 and collected by the CUOP.\ud This aim of this work was to determine the current concentrations of inorganic elements\ud accumulated by otters and whether exposure to heavy metals (lead, mercury, cadmium) in\ud particular is likely to be associated with adverse effects. This is the first study of inorganic\ud elements in otter livers from Europe for nearly 10 years.\ud The otters that were analysed were from England and Wales and included adult and subadult\ud males and females. Liver tissue was analysed using Inductively Coupled Plasma\ud mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) techniques.\ud The concentrations of inorganic elements measured in the present study were within the\ud range previously reported for Eurasian otters in Britain and elsewhere in Europe.\ud Concentrations varied with age and/or sex for some elements. For the heavy metals\ud mercury and cadmium, liver concentrations generally increased with age whereas for lead,\ud juveniles generally had higher liver lead concentrations than adults although for lead these\ud difference were not statistically significant.\ud Aluminium and chromium were the only elements that varied significantly in\ud concentrations between years. It is unclear whether the inter-year variation in aluminium\ud and chromium represent significant inter-year changes in exposure and/or accumulation or\ud may simply reflect local-scale variation in the provenance of otters and their associated\ud exposure.\ud The liver concentrations of heavy metals (mercury, cadmium and lead) in all the otters\ud analysed were below those associated with toxic effects in mammals, although liver lead\ud concentrations in a small number of otters were close to the level of concern

Publisher: NERC/Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:nora.nerc.ac.uk:10821

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