Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Otters killed on roads shed new light on lead pollution

30.08.2006
Otters found dead on our roads are providing important new information on the ecology of this secretive species - and evidence of how successful the ban on lead in petrol has been in reducing levels of lead pollution.

Speaking at the British Ecological Society's Annual Meeting next week, Dr Liz Chadwick of Cardiff University's Otter Project will report the results of collaborative research with Cornwall's Wildlife Veterinary Investigation Project. Both have been conducting post mortems on otters killed by cars and reported by members of the public since 1992, in an initiative funded by the Environment Agency.

“We measured the level of lead in rib-bones taken from over three hundred otters found dead in south-west England between 1992 and 2004, collected by wildlife veterinary pathologist Vic Simpson. We compared this with levels of lead found in stream sediment by the British Geological Society, and airborne emissions recorded by the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory. While some variation related to geology, we found an extremely strong decline over time, reflecting declining emissions from car fuel: otter bone lead levels in 2004 were less than a quarter of those in 1992,” Dr Chadwick will tell the meeting in Oxford.

Legislation halved the amount of lead in petrol in 1986 and phased out general use of leaded petrol in 1999, and atmospheric lead emissions have declined as a result. But although lead emissions have declined, ecologists did not know whether this fall in airborne lead levels was reflected in aquatic ecosystems. In northern Europe the otter is the dominant predator of freshwater food chains, and so levels of pollutants in otter tissues can be a useful indicator of pollution in the environment in which it feeds.

According to Dr Chadwick: “Our results show that what we do in terms of legislative control on pollutants really works - declines in lead in the atmosphere have been dramatic, and have been followed by declines of this heavy metal in the otter - a species of considerable conservation concern. The fact that levels have declined in the otter means that levels have almost certainly declined throughout the aquatic food chain - as top predator, otter tissues provide an indication of intake further

down the food chain.”

The results also have imporant implications for human health. “Reductions in environmental lead levels are good news. In humans, lead can damage the central nervous system including the brain; it also affects the kidney, and reduces growth - particularly in children. These effects on human health provided the impetus behind legislative controls. While it is not possible to measure most of these factors in the otter, similar effects have been shown in other mammals, and it is likely that lower lead levels are related to a healthier otter population.”

The research highlights the importance of long-term monitoring and archiving of samples, and shows that with the help of the public, valuable use can be made of undesirable events such as wildlife road traffic accidents.

Dr Chadwick will present her findings at 10:30 on Thursday 7 September 2006 at the British Ecological Society Annual Meeting.

Becky Allen | alfa
Further information:
http://www.otterproject.cf.ac.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

nachricht World Water Day 2017: It doesn’t Always Have to Be Drinking Water – Using Wastewater as a Resource
17.03.2017 | ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

When Air is in Short Supply - Shedding light on plant stress reactions when oxygen runs short

23.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Researchers use light to remotely control curvature of plastics

23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Sea ice extent sinks to record lows at both poles

23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>