Author's personal copy
Biological Conservation 144 (2011) 1464–1471
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journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/biocon
Widening the problem of lead poisoning to a South-American top scavenger: Lead concentrations in feathers of wild Andean condors
Sergio A. Lambertucci a,⇑, José Antonio Donázar b, Antonio Delgado Huertas c, Begoña Jiménez d, Mónica Sáez d, José Antonio Sanchez-Zapata e, Fernando Hiraldob
Laboratorio Ecotono, INIBIOMA (CONICET-Universidad Nacional del Comahue), Quintral 1250, 8400 Bariloche, Argentina Departmento de Biología de la Conservación, Estación Biológica de Doñana, CSIC, Avda Americo Vespucio s/n, Isla de la Cartuja, E-41092 Sevilla, Spain Laboratorio de Biogeoquímica de Isótopos Estables Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias de la Tierra (CSIC-Univ. Granada), Camino delJueves s/n, 18100 Armilla, Granada, Spain d Department of Instrumental Analysis and Environmental Chemistry, Institute of Organic Chemisty, CSIC, Juan de la Cierva 3, 28006 Madrid, Spain e Department of Applied Biology, Universidad Miguel Hernández, Orihuela, Alicante, Spain
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Lead poisoning is not a new threat for wild birds, but it is nowplaying an important role in shaping raptor populations. Studies have been focused mainly on Europe, North-America, and Japan, but little is known about the situation in South-America. Lead is a serious threat for wildlife, especially for long-lived species. Nevertheless, no information is available for wild Andean condor (Vultur gryphus) populations. This species, which lives throughout the AndesMountains, is endangered mainly in the north though it is having problems throughout its distribution. We evaluated lead exposure in the Andean condor by a nondestructive method using feathers. We determined lead concentration from 152 feathers, collected in 15 communal roosts distributed throughout almost all condor’s range in Patagonia (ca. 1500 km north–south). We also looked for the origin of thislead through the analysis of lead isotope composition of feathers and ammunition. We present here the ﬁrst reference data on lead concentration for a raptor population from Argentina. Lead concentrations were generally low, however, some individuals had concentrations several times above the overall mean (up to 21 lg/g). Our results suggest that lead might come from a mix of two types ofammunition sources, one used for big game and another for hare hunting. Andean condors are at the top of the food chain, thus all the other medium-to-large sized scavengers and predators from this area can be also exposed to this threat. We highlight the need to change hunting policies in Argentina, and in other South-American countries, including the banning of lead ammunitions to protect carnivoresconsuming hunted animals. Ó 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Article history: Received 18 August 2010 Received in revised form 15 December 2010 Accepted 21 January 2011 Available online 19 February 2011 Keywords: Ammunition Bullet Lead poisoning Patagonia Scavenger Vultur gryphus
1. Introduction Lead poisoning in wild species as well as in humans is not a new problem (Demayo et al.,...