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Mercury contamination in five owl species from Iran

Posted on 5. August, 2014.

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Mercury occurs naturally in the environment but anthropogenic sources, such as fossil fuel combustion, non-ferrous metal production and waste incineration, have been suggested to contribute significantly to the mercury contamination

Birds have been used successfully as biomonitors in several studies since generally they are visible, sensitive to environmental changes and highly positioned on the food chain. Owls occupy upper trophic level in food web and are thus more exposed to biomagnification of persistent lipophilic contaminants, including organochlorine pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and mercury (Hg). Owl species, as higher order consumers, including a wide variety of prey species, are potentially of great value as wildlife biomonitoring species in terrestrial systems. 

Due to practical and ethical reasons impede the sacrifice of free-living birds, methods for non-destructive biomonitoring have been developed. Mercury levels in feathers reflect the blood levels at the time of its development. 

This survey was done in order to investigate the mercury concentration in owls belonging to different regions in Iran and compare the results with other regions in the world. 

Read the full article in Chemical Speciation and Bioavailability, Volume 26, Number 3, August 2014, pp. 191-195.

Authors: Reza Dahmardeh Behrooz, Seyed Mahmoud Ghasempouri, Amin Mishmast Nehi, Mohsen Nowrouzi and Mandana Barghi