Anticoagulant rodenticides in predatory birds 2012: a Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme (PBMS) report

Walker, L.A. ORCID:; Chaplow, J.S. ORCID:; Moeckel, C.; Pereira, M.G. ORCID:; Potter, E.D.; Shore, R.F.. 2014 Anticoagulant rodenticides in predatory birds 2012: a Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme (PBMS) report. Lancaster, NERC/Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, 18pp. (CEH Project no. C04288)

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The Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme (PBMS; is the umbrella project that encompasses the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology’s National Capability contaminant monitoring and surveillance work on avian predators. By monitoring sentinel vertebrate species, the PBMS aims to detect and quantify current and emerging chemical threats to the environment and in particular to vertebrate wildlife. Anticoagulant rodenticides, and in particular second generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs), can be toxic to all mammals and birds. Predators that feed upon rodents are particularly likely to be exposed to these compounds. The PBMS, together with other studies, has shown that there is widespread exposure to SGARs of a diverse range of predators in Britain and that some mortalities occur as a result. This report describes the PBMS monitoring for SGARs in barn owls (Tyto alba) found dead in 2012, summarises long term trends in exposure in this species, and compares the relative prevalence of SGARs in barn owls in England and Scotland. We also report the results of an initial investigation into SGAR contamination in 42 sparrowhawks (Accipiter nisus) found dead between 2010 and 2012. Sparrowhawks normally feed on birds and the aim of this investigation was to assess the potential importance of avian foodwebs in exposure of predators to SGARs. SGARs were detected in 87% of the 63 barn owls that were collected in 2012. The most prevalent compounds were difenacoum, bromadiolone and brodifacoum. The majority of the residues were low (< 0.1 µg/g wet weight). One owl was diagnosed as likely to have been poisoned by SGARs. Most of the sparrowhawk livers that were analysed had detectable liver SGAR concentrations, again mainly difenacoum, bromadiolone and brodifacoum (79%, 55% and 64% of birds, respectively). The proportion of sparrowhawks with detectable residues of one or more SGAR (93%) did not differ significantly from that for barn owls (86%) collected over the same time 2010-12 time period. Co-occurrence of multiple residues in the liver was common in barn owls and sparrowhawks (70% and 74% of birds respectively). Sparrowhawks had significantly lower liver sum SGAR concentrations than barn owls in those birds that had detectable residues. SGARs have been monitored in barn owls since 1983. Data on long-term trends have been adjusted to account for changes over time in sensitivity of analytical methods. This has meant that very low residues (<0.025 µg/g wet weight), which are now detectable, are not included in the time trend analysis. Overall, the proportion of both adult and juvenile barn owls with detectable liver concentrations of one or more SGAR has increased significantly over the course of monitoring. The proportion of barn owls with detectable SGAR residues over the period 1990-2012 was two-fold higher in England than in Scotland but residue magnitude did not differ between birds from the two areas.

Item Type: Publication - Report
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biogeochemistry > BGC Topic 1 - Monitoring and Interpretation of Biogeochemical and Climate Changes > BGC - 1.1 - Monitor concentrations, fluxes, physico-chemical forms of current and emerging pollutants ...
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Shore
Funders/Sponsors: NERC/Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Natural England, Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Defra, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage
Additional Keywords: PBMS, Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme, annual report, barn owl, Tyro alba, sparrowhawk, Accipiter nisus, livers, anticoagulant rodenticide, SGAR, birds of prey, kestrel, red kite, difenacoum, bromadiolone, brodifacoum, flocoumafen, difethialone
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
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Date made live: 10 Jun 2014 13:37 +0 (UTC)

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