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Haematological status of wintering great tits (**Parus major**) along a metal pollution gradient

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

In the long-term biomonitoring of wild populations inhabiting polluted areas, the use of non-destructive biomarkers as markers of condition is very important. We examined the possible effects of metal pollution on the haematological status of adult great tits (Parus major) along a well-established pollution gradient near a non-ferrous smelter in Belgium. We measured blood and feather metal concentrations and assessed the haematological status (amount of red blood cells, haemoglobin concentration, haematocrit, mean corpuscular volume and mean corpuscular haemoglobin) of adult great tits during winter at four study sites. Metal concentrations in blood and feathers indicated that cadmium and lead were the most important metals in the pollution gradient under study. Measurements of haematological parameters revealed that haemoglobin concentration, haematocrit, mean corpuscular volume and mean corpuscular haemoglobin were lower in great tits from the more polluted sites. These parameters were significantly negatively correlated with blood lead concentration. The amount of red blood cells, however, did not significantly differ among study sites. Our results indicate that the haematological status of great tits is negatively affected by metal pollution and may therefore be used as a successful biomarker for monitoring the negative impact of metal exposure in the wild.
Journal: Science of the Total Environment
ISSN: 0048-9697
Volume: 408
Pages: 1174 - 1179
Publication year:2010