Mink as a sentinel species in environmental health.
ABSTRACT The concept of "sentinel species" is important in the environmental health sciences because sentinel species can provide integrated and relevant information on the types, amounts, availability, and effects of environmental contaminants. Here we discuss the use of mink (Mustela vison) as a sentinel organism by reviewing the pertinent literature from exposure- and effects-based studies. The review focuses on mercury (Hg) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), as they are persistent, ubiquitous, and bioaccumulative contaminants of concern to both humans and wildlife. Mink are widely distributed, abundant, and regularly trapped in temperate, aquatic ecosystems, and this makes them an excellent model to address issues in environmental pollution on both temporal and spatial scales. As a high-trophic-level, piscivorous mammal, mink can bioaccumulate appreciable concentrations of certain pollutants and have been shown to be sensitive to their toxic effects. The husbandry and life history of mink are well understood, and this has permitted controlled dosing experiments to be conducted using animals reared in captivity. These manipulative studies have yielded important quantitative information on exposure-response relationships and benchmarks of adverse health effects, and have also allowed the cellular mechanisms underlying toxic effects to be explored. Furthermore, the data accrued from the laboratory continue to validate observations made in the field. Research derived from mink can bridge and integrate multiple disciplines, and the information collected from this species has allowed environmental health scientists to better understand and characterize pollution effects on ecosystems.
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ABSTRACT: Mercury (Hg) in water, sediment, soils, seston, and biota were quantified for three streams in the Grand Portage National Monument (GRPO) in far northeastern Minnesota to assess ecosystem contamination and the potential for harmful exposure of piscivorous fish, wildlife, and humans to methylmercury (MeHg). Concentrations of total Hg in water, sediment, and soil were typical of those in forest ecosystems within the region, whereas MeHg con-centrations and percent MeHg in these ecosystem components were markedly higher than values reported else-where in the western Great Lakes Region. Soils and sediment were Hg-enriched, containing approximately 4-fold more total Hg per unit of organic matter. We hypothesized that localized Hg enrichment was due in part to an-thropogenic pollution associated with historic fur-trading activity. Bottom-up forcing of bioaccumulation was ev-idenced by MeHg concentrations in larval dragonflies, which were near the maxima for dragonflies sampled concurrently from five other national park units in the region. Despite its semi-remote location, GRPO is a Hg-sensitive landscape in which MeHg is produced and bioaccumulated in aquatic food webs to concentrations that pose ecological risks to MeHg-sensitive piscivores, including predatory fish, belted kingfisher, and mink.Science of The Total Environment 02/2015; 514:192-201. DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.01.079 · 4.10 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The wild American mink, a semi-aquatic top predator, is exposed to high levels of environmental pollutants that may affect its reproductive system. In this study, the reproductive organs from 101 wild male mink collected in Sweden were examined during necropsy. Potential associations between various variables of the reproductive system and fat concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (p,p′-DDE) and other organochlorine pesticides and liver concentrations of perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) were investigated using multiple regression models. The anogenital distance was negatively associated (p < 0.05) with concentration of p,p′-DDE and some PFAAs (perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA), perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUnDA) and ∑PFAA). Penis length was positively associated with PCB 28, PCB 47/48, PCB 52 and PCB 110 (p < 0.05), and some of these congeners were also associated with baculum length and penis weight. In contrast, penile length tended (p < 0.1) to be shorter in mink with high concentrations of p,p′-DDE. These data may help to improve the understanding of how environmental pollution affects male reproduction in both wildlife and humans. Overall, the study suggests endocrine disrupting effects in wild mink and identifies potentially important pollutants in the complex mixture of contaminants in the environment. In addition, the results suggest that the variables of the reproductive system of male mink used in this study are good candidates for use as indicators of environmental pollution affecting the mammalian reproductive system.Chemosphere 02/2015; 120:237–245. DOI:10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.07.009 · 3.50 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The development of media-specific ecological values for risk assessment includes the derivation of acceptable levels of exposure for terrestrial wildlife (e.g., birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians). Though the derivation and subsequent application of these values can be used for screening purposes, there is a need to identify toxicological effects thresholds specifically for making remedial decisions at individual contaminated sites. A workshop was held in the fall of 2012 to evaluate existing methods and recent scientific developments for refining ecological soil screening levels (Eco-SSLs) and improving the derivation of site-specific ecological soil cleanup values (Eco-SCVs). This included a focused session on the development and derivation of toxicity reference values (TRVs) for terrestrial wildlife. Topics that were examined included: methods for toxicological endpoint selection, techniques for dose-response assessment, approaches for cross-species extrapolation, and tools to incorporate environmental factors (e.g., metal bioavailability and chemistry) into a reference value. The workgroup also made recommendations to risk assessors and regulators on how to incorporate site-specific wildlife life history and toxicity information into the derivation of TRVs to be used in the further development of soil cleanup levels. Integr Environ Assess Manag © 2013 SETAC.Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management 07/2014; 10(3). DOI:10.1002/ieam.1474