Investigation into the utility of flying foxes as bioindicators for environmental metal pollution reveals evidence of diminished lead but significant cadmium exposure

Pulscher, Laura A., Gray, Rachael, McQuilty, Robert, Rose, Karrie, Welbergen, Justin, and Phalen, David N. (2020) Investigation into the utility of flying foxes as bioindicators for environmental metal pollution reveals evidence of diminished lead but significant cadmium exposure. Chemosphere, 254. 126839.

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Abstract

Due to their large range across diverse habitats, flying-foxes are potential bioindicator species for environmental metal exposure. To test this hypothesis, blood spots, urine, fur, liver and kidney samples were collected from grey-headed flying-foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus) and black flying-foxes (P. alecto) from the Sydney basin, Australia. Concentrations of arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, mercury and zinc and 11 other trace metals were determined using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. As predicted, kidney and fur lead concentrations were lower compared to concentrations found in flying-foxes in the early 1990's, due to reduced environmental lead emissions. Tissue cadmium concentrations in flying-foxes were higher compared to previous studies of flying-foxes and other bat species, suggesting that flying-foxes were exposed to unrecognized cadmium sources. Identification of these sources should be a focus of future research. Urine concentrations of arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead were proportional to kidney concentrations. Given that urine can be collected from flying-foxes without handling, this demonstrates that many flying-foxes can be assessed for metal exposure with relative ease. The analysis of blood spots was not viable because of variable metal concentrations in the filter paper used. Fur concentrations of metals correlated poorly with tissue concentrations at the low levels of metals found in this study, but fur could still be a useful sample if flying-foxes are exposed to high levels of metals. Lastly, heat inactivation had minimal impact on metal concentrations in kidney and liver samples and should be considered as a tool to protect personnel working with biohazardous samples.

Item ID: 63673
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1879-1298
Keywords: Bioindicator species, Cadmium, Flying-fox, Fur, Lead, Urine
Copyright Information: © 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
Funders: Taronga Conservation Society (TCS), Sydney School of Veterinary Sciences
Date Deposited: 01 Jul 2020 07:30
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4105 Pollution and contamination > 410501 Environmental biogeochemistry @ 100%
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