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Environ Pollut. 2007 Jul;148(2):483-90. Epub 2007 Jan 24.

Heavy metal contamination in bats in Britain.

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  • 1NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Monks Wood, Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire PE28 2LS, United Kingdom.


Toxic metals are bioaccumulated by insectivorous mammals but few studies (none from Britain) have quantified residues in bats. We measured renal mercury (Hg), lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd) concentrations in bats from south-west England to determine how they varied with species, sex, age, and over time, and if they were likely to cause adverse effects. Residues were generally highest in whiskered bats (Myotis mystacinus). Compared with other species, pipistrelle (Pipistrellus spp) and Natterer's bats (Myotis nattereri) had significantly lower kidney Hg and Pb concentrations, respectively. Renal Hg increased over time in pipistrelles but the contributory sources are unknown. Kidney Pb did not decrease over time despite concurrent declines in atmospheric Pb. Overall, median renal metal concentrations were similar to those in bats from mainland Europe and 6- to 10-fold below those associated with clinical effect, although 5% of pipistrelles had kidney Pb residues diagnostic of acute lead poisoning.

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