Lead isotope ratios ((206)Pb/(207)Pb and (208)Pb/(207)Pb) and concentrations in the livers and bones of marbled teal and white-headed duck found dead or moribund were determined in order to establish the main lead source in these waterfowl species. Lead concentrations in bone (dry weight) and liver (wet weight) were found to be very high in many of the white-headed ducks (bone: geometric mean=88.9 ppm, maximum=419 ppm; liver: geometric mean=16.8 ppm, maximum=57.0 ppm). Some of the marbled teal had high lead levels in the bones but liver lead levels were all low (bone: geometric mean=6.13 ppm, maximum=112 ppm; liver: geometric mean=0.581 ppm, maximum=4.77 ppm). Ingested lead shot were found in 71% of the white-headed duck and 20% of the marbled teal. The (206)Pb/(207)Pb ratio in livers and bones of white-headed ducks and marbled teals showed no significant differences compared to the ratios obtained from lead shot. The (206)Pb/(207)Pb ratio in bones of marbled teal ducklings with the highest lead concentrations tended to resemble the ratios of lead shot, which supports our hypothesis that the lead was derived from the hens. We also found that the lead ratios of lead shot and lead ratios described for soils in the area overlapped, but also that the isotopic ratio (206)Pb/(207)Pb in lead shot used in Spain has a narrow range compared with those used in North America. The principal source of lead in many of these birds was, however, most likely lead shot, as supported by the similar isotopic ratios, high lead concentrations in tissues and evidence of ingested shot.
Svanberg, F., Mateo, R., Hillström, L., Green, A. J., Taggart, M. A., Raab, A., & Meharg, A. A. (2006). Lead isotopes and lead shot ingestion in the globally threatened marbled teal (Marmaronetta angustirostris) and white-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala). Science of the Total Environment, 370(2-3), 416-24. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2006.07.006