Altered porphyrin excretion and histopathology of greylag geese (Anser anser) exposed to soil contaminated with lead and arsenic in the Guadalquivir Marshes, southwestern Spain

Rafael Mateo, Mark A Taggart, Andy J Green, Carles Cristófol, Antoni Ramis, Hugues Lefranc, Jordi Figuerola, Andy A Meharg

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Greylag geese (Anser anser) in the Guadalquivir Marshes (southwestern Spain) can be exposed to sources of inorganic pollution such as heavy metals and arsenic from mining activities or Pb shot used for hunting. We have sampled 270 fecal excreta in different areas of the marshes in 2001 to 2002 to evaluate the exposure to Pb, Zn, Cu, Mn, and As and to determine its relationship with soil ingestion and with the excretion of porphyrins and biliverdin as biomarkers. These effects and the histopathology of liver, kidney, and pancreas were also studied in 50 geese shot in 2002 to 2004. None of the geese had ingested Pb shot in the gizzard. This contrasts with earlier samplings before the ban of Pb shot for waterfowl hunting in 2001 and the removal of Pb shot in points of the Doñana National Park (Spain) in 1999 to 2000. The highest exposure through direct soil ingestion to Pb and other studied elements was observed in samples from Entremuros, the area of the Doñana Natural Park affected by the Aznalcóllar mine spill in 1998. Birds from Entremuros also more frequently showed mononuclear infiltrates in liver and kidney than birds from the unaffected areas, although other more specific lesions of Pb or Zn poisoning were not observed. The excretion of coproporphyrins, especially of the isomer I, was positively related to the fecal As concentration, and the ratio of coproporphyrin III/I was positively related to fecal Pb concentration. Biliary protoporphyrin IX concentration was also slightly related to hepatic Pb concentration. This study reflects biological effects on terrestrial animals by the mining pollution in Doñana that can be monitored with the simple noninvasive sampling of feces.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-12
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry / SETAC
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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