Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Condor lead poisoning persists, impeding recovery, says CU-UCSC study

26.06.2012
The California condor is chronically endangered by lead exposure from ammunition and requires ongoing human intervention for population stability and growth, according to a new study led by the University of California, Santa Cruz, and involving the University of Colorado Boulder.

Since 1982, the condor population has increased from 22 to approximately 400, but only through intensive management including captive breeding, monitoring and veterinary care. The bird's recovery has been deceptively successful as its primary threat -- poisoning from lead-based bullets ingested as fragments from carrion -- has gone largely unmitigated, according to the study.

"We will never have a self-sustaining wild condor population if we don't solve this problem," said lead author Myra Finkelstein, a research toxicologist at UC Santa Cruz. "Currently, California condors are tagged and monitored, trapped twice a year for blood tests and when necessary treated for lead poisoning in veterinary hospitals, and they still die from lead poisoning on a regular basis."

The California condor, which once numbered in the thousands in the western United States and Mexico, is the largest land bird in North America.

Reintroductions since the bird's near extinction in 1982 have led to free-flying populations in Arizona, California and Baja California. Dubbed "thunderbird" by American Indians, its impressive wings can span more than 9 feet. A type of vulture, the creature's bald head allows feeding without the mess of carcass flesh sticking to its plumage.

The study, published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that annually from 1997 to 2010, 20 percent of the California condors sampled suffered lead poisoning and needed chelation therapy, a metal detoxification process that also is used for children with lead poisoning. Cumulatively over the time period, nearly half of the population tested was poisoned by lead, with many birds suffering repeat poisoning within and across years.

"Lead exposure and poisoning levels in condors continue to be epidemic," said co-author Dan Doak, a new endowed chair and professor in CU-Boulder's Environmental Studies Program. "Despite the current efforts to help the species, the wild population will decline again toward extinction in a few decades unless these unsustainable and very expensive efforts continue in perpetuity."

From 1997 to 2010, the annual prevalence of lead exposure -- with blood lead levels indicating potentially serious but nonlethal effects -- ranged from 50 to 88 percent in California condors in the wild. Also, the annual median blood lead levels in free-flying California condors exceeded the average for pre-release condors bred in captivity by at least threefold.

The researchers found no evidence that a partial ban on the use of lead-based ammunition in condor habitats, enacted in California in 2008, resulted in lower incidence of lead exposure and poisoning. Although alternatives to lead-based bullets are available, regulations limiting the use of lead-based ammunition face stiff opposition from hunting organizations and gun-rights groups, according to the researchers.

The estimated cost of a multiagency condor recovery program including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is about $5 million per year, according to the researchers.

"Integrating a study of the effects of toxic chemicals on individual wild animals into a modeling of whole-population impacts is very unusual," said Doak. "But the results provided a critical piece of our results in this study."

The study was supported by the National Park Service, Western National Park Association and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

A link to the PNAS paper will be posted within the news release at http://www.colorado.edu/news. For more information on CU-Boulder's Environmental Studies Program visit http://envs.colorado.edu/about/.

Dan Doak | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.colorado.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Real-time feedback helps save energy and water
08.02.2017 | Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA eyes Pineapple Express soaking California

24.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

New gene for atrazine resistance identified in waterhemp

24.02.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

New Mechanisms of Gene Inactivation may prevent Aging and Cancer

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>