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 Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

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: 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

From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'

23.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

'Quartz' crystals at the Earth's core power its magnetic field

23.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood

23.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>