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Rev Environ Contam Toxicol. 2018;245:1-64. doi: 10.1007/398_2017_5.

A Global Overview of Exposure Levels and Biological Effects of Trace Elements in Penguins.

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Department of Aquatic Systems, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, EULA-Chile Centre, Universidad de Concepción, P.O. Box 160-C, Concepción, Chile.
Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, Universidad de Concepción, P.O. Box 537, ChillÃn, Chile.
Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, Universidad de Concepción, P.O. Box 537, ChillÃn, Chile.
Department of Sciences Biology Unit, Danlí Technological Campus, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras, Danlí, Honduras.
Melimoyu Ecosystem Research Institute, Santiago, Chile.


Trace elements are chemical contaminants that can be present almost anywhere on the planet. The study of trace elements in biotic matrices is a topic of great relevance for the implications that it can have on wildlife and human health. Penguins are very useful, since they live exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere and represent about 90% of the biomass of birds of the Southern Ocean. The levels of trace elements (dry weight) in different biotic matrices of penguins were reviewed here. Maps of trace element records in penguins were included. Data on exposure and effects of trace elements in penguins were collected from the literature. The most reported trace elements in penguins are aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, copper, zinc, and manganese. Trace elements have been measured in 11 of the 18 species of penguins. The most studied biotic matrices are feathers and excreta. Most of the studies have been performed in Antarctica and subantarctic Islands. Little is known about the interaction among metals, which could provide better knowledge about certain mechanisms of detoxification in penguins. Future studies of trace elements in penguins must incorporate other metals such as vanadium, cobalt, nickel, and chromium. Data of metals in the species such as Eudyptes pachyrhynchus, Eudyptes moseleyi, Eudyptes sclateri, Eudyptes robustus, Eudyptes schlegeli, Spheniscus demersus, Spheniscus mendiculus, and Megadyptes antipodes are urged. It is important to correlate levels of metals in different biotic matrices with the effects on different species and in different geographic locations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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