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.
If this is your thesis or dissertation, and want to learn how to access it or for more information about readership statistics, contact us at STARS@ucf.edu.
Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Campus-only Access)
Bouchenot, Jennifer, "Non-lethal Predictors of Organ Level Metal Contaminants in Central Florida Red-shouldered Hawks" (2021). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 651.