Heavy metal contamination in bats in Britain

Walker, L. A. ORCID:; Simpson, V. R.; Rockett, C. L.; Wienburg, C. L.; Shore, R. F.. 2007 Heavy metal contamination in bats in Britain. Environmental Pollution, 148. 483-490.

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Toxic metals are bioaccumulated by insectivorous mammals but few studies (none from Britain) have quantified residues in bats. We measured renal mercury (Hg), lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd) concentrations in bats from south-west England to determine how they varied with species, sex, age, and over time, and if they were likely to cause adverse effects. Residues were generally highest in whiskered bats (Myotis mystacinus). Compared with other species, pipistrelle (Pipistrellus spp) and Natterer's bats (Myotis nattereri) had significantly lower kidney Hg and Pb concentrations, respectively. Renal Hg increased over time in pipistrelles but the contributory sources are unknown. Kidney Pb did not decrease over time despite concurrent declines in atmospheric Pb. Overall, median renal metal concentrations were similar to those in bats from mainland Europe and 6- to 10-fold below those associated with clinical effect, although 5% of pipistrelles had kidney Pb residues diagnostic of acute lead poisoning. Heavy metal contamination has been quantified in bats from Britain for the first time and indicates increased accumulation of Hg and no reduction in Pb.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biogeochemistry > SE01B Sustainable Monitoring, Risk Assessment and Management of Chemicals
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Shore
ISSN: 0269-7491
Format Availability: Electronic, Print
Additional Keywords: Pipistrelle, Brown long-eared bat, kidney, mercury, cadmium, lead, risk assessment
NORA Subject Terms: Zoology
Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 19 Jul 2007 15:33 +0 (UTC)

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