Abstract

Elemental contaminants aggregate in the environment due to human activity and can induce detrimental physiological effects within organisms. Birds exhibit exceptional susceptibility to many pollutants and are popular biomonitoring agents throughout the world. Birds of prey are of special interest due to their substantial biomagnification potential. Lethal sampling of internal organs yields accurate contaminant measurements, but recent sampling trends are endeavoring towards non-destructive sampling such as feathers. This methodological shift stems from researchers' preference for less-regulated samples, enhanced animal welfare, and broadening the possible collaborative audience with simpler protocols. Unfortunately, investigations of feathers have shown that their accuracy is capricious due to a wide variation of analysis results, which may be a result of external deposition or the broad temporal range of feather contaminant assimilation. The Red-shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus, is a diurnal terrestrial generalist found along the Atlantic Flyway. This study investigated the blood feather, which is an actively growing feather, as an alternative non-lethal sample type for quantifying elemental contaminants in B. lineatus. Sex and age class influences were also investigated. Blood feather, feather, and kidney tissues were collected from 50 B. lineatus and livers from 42 of the same B. lineatus. Samples were analyzed using Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) for aluminum (Al), phosphorous (P), chromium (Cr), manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), cobalt (Co), nickel (Ni), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), gadolinium (Gd), and lead (Pb). Blood feathers, when compared to feathers, had stronger correlations with internal organs for As and Pb. There were significant sex differences in liver tissues for Co, Cu, Zn, Cd, and Ni, where males generally contained elevated concentrations compared to females. The age class of the bird influenced the amount of metal accumulated in their organs. Prefledglings and fledglings had significantly lower concentrations compared to either immature and mature birds for Al, Cd, and Pb in liver tissues as well as Al, Mn, Fe, As, Cd, and Pb in kidney tissues. None of the B. lineatus samples exceeded previously reported sublethal levels.

Notes

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Graduation Date

2021

Semester

Summer

Advisor

Goolsby, Eric

Degree

Master of Science (M.S.)

College

College of Sciences

Department

Biology

Degree Program

Biology

Format

application/pdf

Identifier

CFE0008622;DP0025353

URL

https://purls.library.ucf.edu/go/DP0025353

Language

English

Release Date

August 2022

Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

Access Status

Masters Thesis (Campus-only Access)

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