The Presence and Impact of Environmental Lead in Passerine Birds Along an Urban to Rural Land Use Gradient

Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, National Zoological Park, 3001 Connecticut Avenue, Washington, DC 20008, USA.
Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology (Impact Factor: 1.9). 09/2007; 53(2):261-8. DOI: 10.1007/s00244-006-0174-4
Source: PubMed


Contamination of wetlands by lead shot and lead fishing weights has generated a tremendous amount of research into the impact of lead poisoning on wildlife. Less well known are the potential threats to wildlife posed by lead contaminants still prevalent in urban environments. Despite a U.S. federal ban on lead-based paint and gasoline in 1978 and 1986, respectively, lead residue is still prevalent at hazardous levels in urban and suburban environments and may present a health concern for people and wildlife, particularly birds. We quantified soil lead content in residential properties across a rural-to-urban land-use gradient in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area and then assessed the impact of lead contamination on body condition in adult and nestling passerine birds at the same sites. Soil lead concentration was significantly higher in urban sites compared to rural sites. Accordingly, adult and nestling birds captured in urban sites had significantly higher blood lead concentrations than their rural counterparts. However, only gray catbird nestlings exhibited lower body condition as a result of lead contamination. Birds continue to breed in urban habitats despite numerous negative attributes to these environments including light, noise, pedestrian and toxic contaminants, such as lead. These sites often contain habitat that appears suitable for roosting, nesting, and foraging and thus may act as an ecological trap for breeding birds because breeding success is often negatively associated with increasing urbanization. Lead contamination is one more feature of urbanization that birds and other wildlife must face in an increasingly developed world.

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Available from: Peter Marra, Jun 25, 2015
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    • "Body burden metal concentrations were correlated with soil metal data from the same yard patch type the organism was collected from using Pearson correlation (n = 17 for earthworms and n = 38 for isopods). In addition, blood concentrations of Pb were available for several species of birds in 12 of the residences sampled in this study (Roux & Marra, 2007). We took advantage of this overlap to conduct a post-hoc analysis correlating Pb concentrations in soil, earthworm, and isopod bodies with bird blood concentrations of Pb in the commonly sampled residences using log 10 transformed data in a Pearson correlation. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study examined the distribution of metals in residential soils from the scale of a residential yard to a metropolitan area by comparing residences along an urbanization gradient in the Baltimore–Washington area, USA. In addition, earthworms and terrestrial isopods were sampled from residential yards to measure body burdens of metals. Soil metal concentrations from lawns and planting bed (road, foundation, and yard) patches were compared (1) among land-use types (inner urban, outer urban, suburban, and rural); (2) between pre- and post-1940 built residential structures; and (3) among yard patch types. Lawn soil concentrations of As, Cd, and Pb varied statistically among the land-use types. Differences between inner urban and rural lawn soils varied almost eight-fold for Pb, three-fold for Cd, and more than two-fold for As. Bed patches exhibited a slightly stronger relationship than lawns across the urbanization gradient. A similar relationship was shown for pre- and post-1940 structures with older having higher concentrations than post-1940 structures. Earthworm body burdens were statistically correlated with soil Pb, while isopod burdens exhibited a significant relationship with soil As, Cr, Ni, Pb, and Zn. A post-hoc analysis with bird blood Pb data that was available for the residences, showed a significant relationship with earthworm Pb body burdens. This study suggests that despite policy efforts to reduce metal emissions, contamination of soil persists in urban residences at levels that have health implications for people and wildlife living in the Baltimore–Washington, DC area.
    Landscape and Urban Planning 10/2015; 142. DOI:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2015.05.001 · 3.04 Impact Factor
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    • "Some authors have suggested that highly modified environments, in general, could be ecological traps: animals are attracted to settle on the basis of historically adaptive cues, but cannot sustain a viable population because of low habitat quality [39], [40]. Entanglement in anthropogenic nest material can be added to the suite of documented stressors of urban and intensive agricultural landscapes, including toxins [41], novel predators [42], pesticide usage [43], tillage [44], roads [45], and disease [46]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Much attention has been paid to the impacts of plastics and other debris on marine organisms, but the effects of plastic on terrestrial organisms have been largely ignored. Detrimental effects of terrestrial plastic could be most pronounced in intensively human-modified landscapes (e.g., urban and agricultural areas), which are a source of much anthropogenic debris. Here, we examine the occurrence, types, landscape associations, and consequences of anthropogenic nest material in the American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos), a North American species that breeds in both urban and agricultural landscapes. We monitored 195 nestlings in 106 nests across an urban and agricultural gradient in the Sacramento Valley, California, USA. We found that 85.2% of crow nests contained anthropogenic material, and 11 of 195 nestlings (5.6%) were entangled in their nests. The length of the material was greater in nests in agricultural territories than in urban territories, and the odds of entanglement increased 7.55 times for each meter of anthropogenic material in the nest. Fledging success was significantly lower for entangled than for unentangled nestlings. In all environments, particularly urban, agricultural, and marine, careful disposal of potential hazards (string, packing and hay bale twine, balloon ribbon, wire, fishing line) could reduce the occurrence of entanglement of nestling birds.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(1):e88006. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0088006 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    • "Birds were used to assess the amounts of lead especially in the aquatic environment, due to the widespread use of lead ammunition for hunting on waterfowl or lead weights used for fishing (Scheuhammer and Norris 1996). Studies on lead contamination in birds conducted in industrial areas showed a definite influence of environmental pollution on the levels of metals accumulated by birds (Dmowski 1993; Adout et al. 2007; Berglund et al. 2010), which is also true in urban areas (Janiga et al. 1990; Adout et al. 2007; Roux and Marra 2007). "
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to determine the possibility of using feathers of blue tit nestlings to assess the level of endogenous accumulation of lead. For this purpose we conducted an experiment with lead application to randomly chosen nestlings from eight randomly drawn broods. Five days after the exposure, feathers of lead-treated nestlings had significantly higher lead concentrations than control nestlings. This result suggests that feathers can be used as reliable non-destructive bioindicators to assess the level of heavy metals originating from contaminated food, which is of great significance for comparative studies on ecological consequences of pollution.
    Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 08/2013; 91(3). DOI:10.1007/s00128-013-1065-9 · 1.26 Impact Factor
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