PH25 Wildlife Ecotoxicology II
Exhibit Hall
8:00 AM - Thursday

(PH290) Lead accumulation in free-ranging Turkey and Black Vultures from the Southeastern region of the USA.

Brant, H.1, Jagoe, C.1, DeVault, T.2, Romanek, C.1, Rhodes, Jr., O.2, Bryan, Jr., A.1, Brisbin, Jr., I.1, 1 University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Aiken, SC, USA2 Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA

ABSTRACT- Vultures feed primarily on carrion and may be exposed to lead and other contaminants in their diet. As part of a larger study, we measured lead in breast feathers, down and blood from 22 black vultures (Coragyps atratus (BV)) and 12 turkey vultures (Cathartes aura(TV)) from South Carolina, USA. Mean (+ 1 SD) lead concentrations (ppm wet weight for blood and ppm dry weight for down and feathers) in blood/down/feathers were 0.28 + 0.27/ 1.96 + 1.71/ 2.38 + 2.85 for BV, and 0.19 + 0.12/ 0.97 + 1.25/ 0.97 + 1.00 for TV. BV down and feathers contained significantly more lead than TV down and feathers. We also measured stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios in feathers as indicators of carbon source and trophic position. Mean delta 13C values (ppt) were -18.40 + 0.69 and -19.14 + 1.01 for BV and TV, respectively. Mean delta 15N values (ppt) were 8.91 + 0.46 and 8.73 + 0.89 for BV and TV respectively. While differences between species were not statistically significant, the range of values was greater for TV. Lead concentrations were not correlated with stable isotope ratios. Lead concentrations in down and feathers from individuals of both species were above those associated with adverse effects in other bird species. This suggests lead toxicity may be a concern in free ranging vultures in this region.

Key words: stable isotope, lead, black vulture, turkey vulture

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