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.
SourceAvailable from: Ole Roland Therkildsen
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ABSTRACT: Mercury (Hg) has been detected in polar bear brain tissue, but its biological effects are not well known. Relationships between Hg concentrations and neurochemical enzyme activities and receptor binding were assessed in the cerebellum, frontal lobes, and occipital lobes of 24 polar bears collected from Nunavik (Northern Quebec), Canada. The concentration–response relationship was further studied with in vitro experiments using pooled brain homogenate of 12 randomly chosen bears. In environmentally exposed brain samples, there was no correlative relationship between Hg concentration and cholinesterase (ChE) activity or muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (mAChR) binding in any of the 3 brain regions. Monoamine oxidase (MAO) activity in the occipital lobe showed a negative correlative relationship with total Hg concentration. In vitro experiments, however, demonstrated that Hg (mercuric chloride and methylmercury chloride) can inhibit ChE and MAO activities and muscarinic mAChR binding. These results show that Hg can alter neurobiochemical parameters but the current environmental Hg exposure level does have an effect on the neurochemistry of polar bears from northern Canada. Environ Toxicol Chem 2014;9999:1–9. © 2014 SETACEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry 11/2014; 33(11). DOI:10.1002/etc.2685 · 2.83 Impact Factor
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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 · 3.16 Impact Factor