Lead contamination in raptors in Europe: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Monclús, Laura; Shore, Richard F.; Krone, Oliver. 2020 Lead contamination in raptors in Europe: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Science of the Total Environment, 748, 141437. 16, pp.

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Lead contamination is a widely recognised conservation problem for raptors worldwide. There are a number of studies in individual raptor species but those data have not been systematically evaluated to understand raptor-wide lead exposure and effects at a pan-European scale. To critically assess the extent of this problem, we performed a systematic review compiling all published data on lead in raptors (1983–2019) and, through a meta-analysis, determined if there was evidence for differences in exposure across feeding traits, geographical regions, between hunting and non-hunting periods, and changes over time. We also reviewed the impact of lead on raptors and the likely main source of exposure. We examined 114 studies that were unevenly distributed in terms of time of publication and the countries in which studies were performed. Peer-reviewed articles reported data for 39 raptor species but very few species were widely monitored across Europe. Obligate (vultures) and facultative scavengers (golden eagle, common buzzard and white-tailed sea eagle) accumulated the highest lead concentrations in tissues and generally were the species most at risk of lead poisoning. We found no evidence of a spatial or decadal trend in lead residues, but we demonstrated that high lead blood levels relate to hunting season. Exposure at levels associated with both subclinical and lethal effects is common and lead from rifle bullets and shot is often the likely source of exposure. Overall, our review illustrates the high incidence and ubiquity of lead contamination in raptors in Europe. However, we did not find studies that related exposure to quantitative impacts on European raptor populations nor detailed studies on the impact of mitigation measures. Such information is urgently needed and requires a more harmonised approach to quantifying lead contamination and effects in raptors across Europe.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pollution (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0048-9697
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: Pb, birds of prey, poisoning, ammunition, heavy metal
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Biology and Microbiology
Date made live: 26 Aug 2020 11:22 +0 (UTC)

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