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Environ Pollut. 2017 Jan;220(Pt A):672-679. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2016.10.025. Epub 2016 Oct 18.

Repeated conservation threats across the Americas: High levels of blood and bone lead in the Andean Condor widen the problem to a continental scale.

Author information

1
Jardín Zoológico de la ciudad de Buenos Aires, República de la India 3000 (1425), C.A.B.A., Argentina; Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias-Universidad de Buenos Aires, Av. Chorroarín 280 (1427), C.A.B.A., Argentina; The Peregrine Fund, 5668 W Flying Hawk Lane, Boise, ID, 83709, USA; Fundación Cabure-í, Sucre 2842 9º "A" (1428), C.A.B.A., Argentina. Electronic address: gwiemeyer@fvet.uba.ar.
2
Jardín Zoológico de la ciudad de Buenos Aires, República de la India 3000 (1425), C.A.B.A., Argentina.
3
Jardín Zoológico de la ciudad de Buenos Aires, República de la India 3000 (1425), C.A.B.A., Argentina; Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias-Universidad de Buenos Aires, Av. Chorroarín 280 (1427), C.A.B.A., Argentina.
4
Fundación Bioandina Argentina, República de la India 3000 (1425), C.A.B.A., Argentina.
5
Jardín Zoológico de la ciudad de Buenos Aires, República de la India 3000 (1425), C.A.B.A., Argentina; Fundación Bioandina Argentina, República de la India 3000 (1425), C.A.B.A., Argentina.
6
Grupo de Biología de la Conservación, Laboratorio Ecotono, INIBIOMA (CONICET-Universidad Nacional del Comahue), Quintral 1250, Bariloche 8400, Argentina.

Abstract

Wildlife lead exposure is an increasing conservation threat that is being widely investigated. However, for some areas of the world (e.g., South America) and certain species, research on this subject is still scarce or only local information is available. We analyzed the extent and intensity of lead exposure for a widely distributed threatened species, the Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus). We conducted the study at two different scales: 1) sampling of birds received for rehabilitation or necropsy in Argentina, and 2) bibliographic review and extensive survey considering exposure event for the species' distribution in South America. Wild condors from Argentina (n = 76) presented high lead levels consistent with both recent and previous exposure (up to 104 μg/dL blood level, mean 15.47 ± 21.21 μg/dL and up to 148.20 ppm bone level, mean 23.08 ± 31.39 ppm). In contrast, captive bred individuals -not exposed to lead contamination- had much lower lead levels (mean blood level 5.63 ± 3.08 μg/dL, and mean bone level 2.76 ± 3.06 ppm). Condors were exposed to lead throughout their entire range in continental Argentina, which represents almost sixty percent (>4000 km) of their geographical distribution. We also present evidence of lead exposure events in Chile, Ecuador, and Peru. Lead poisoning is a widespread major conservation threat for the Andean Condor, and probably other sympatric carnivores from South America. The high number and wide range of Andean Condors with lead values complement the results for the California Condor and other scavengers in North America suggesting lead poisoning is a continental threat. Urgent actions are needed to reduce this poison in the wild.

KEYWORDS:

Ammunition; Condor; Hunting; Lead; South America

PMID:
27769769
DOI:
10.1016/j.envpol.2016.10.025
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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