Date de publication: 2020

Urban heavy metal pollution can impair the health of humans and other organisms inhabiting cities. While birds are suggested as one of the appropriate bioindicators for essential and non-essential trace element monitoring, the process of particular elements' accumulation in blood and its possible adverse health effects during ageing of individuals remain unexplored. We have investigated lifetime changes in blood lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd), arsenic (As) and zinc (Zn) concentrations and searched for links to health-related traits in sub-urban free-living great tit (Parus major) population monitored over a long period of time. The blood As concentrations were under the limit of detection in most samples. The blood Pb levels showed a non-linear relationship to individuals age, where the highest Pb concentrations were measured in nestlings and in a very small group of highly senescent birds (over 7 years old), while no clear trend was observed for the majority of the adult age stages. No age-related patterns were found for blood Cd or Zn concentrations. The positive relationship between date of capture and blood Cd and Zn levels may reflect seasonal changes in diet composition. We did not reveal any anaemia-like conditions (decreased total erythrocyte count or increased immature erythrocyte count) in relation to blood heavy metal concentrations in the investigated birds. Total leukocyte counts, heterophil/lymphocyte (H/L) ratio and total heterophil and lymphocyte counts increased with increasing Pb, Cd and Zn concentrations in blood. This study demonstrates the suitability of avian blood for actual heavy metal spatial and temporal biomonitoring even in situations when the precise age of the individuals remains unknown.

Keywords: Ecotoxicology; Hematology; Risk elements; Senescence; Urbanisation; White blood cells.

Sci Total Environ . 2020 Jun 25;723:138002. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.138002. Epub 2020 Mar 16.