|Title||Spatial variation of mercury levels in nesting Bonelli's eagles from Southwest Portugal: effects of diet composition and prey contamination.|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Authors||Palma, L, Beja, P, Tavares, PC, Monteiro, LR|
|Year of Publication||2005|
|Date Published||2005 Apr|
|Keywords||Animals, Diet, Environmental Pollutants, Female, Food Contamination, Male, Mercury, Nesting Behavior, Portugal, Predatory Behavior, Raptors|
Mercury (Hg) was determined in adult Bonelli's eagles (Hieraaetus fasciatus) and their avian prey, from samples of feathers collected between 1992 and 2001 at the nesting sites of 21 pairs in Southwest Portugal. Eagle Hg levels showed great variation, reflecting primarily differences in diet composition and food chain biomagnification. Concentrations were positively correlated with the dietary proportion of insectivorous and omnivorous birds (e.g. egrets, corvids and thrushes), with very low levels for pairs feeding mainly on herbivores (e.g. rabbits, pigeons and partridges). Differences in prey contamination among breeding territories added to dietary effects in determining variation of Hg levels in eagles, shaping a spatial pattern that was largely consistent with a source of contamination in a coal-burning power-plant lying upwind of the study area. Despite this presumed contamination, Hg levels seemed to be of little concern to this eagle population, though there might be subtle deleterious effects on the reproductive output of a few pairs. This study emphasizes the need to account for dietary effects when biomonitoring Hg contamination using birds of prey.
|Alternate Journal||Environ. Pollut.|