Male European robins (Erithacus rubecula) and mercury transference in the Tatra Mountains of Slovakia
Pollutants such as heavy metals are increasingly prevalent in the environment. For example, Organic methylmercury is known for its persistence and bio-accumulative capacity, and thus for its high toxicity in various organisms. Birds are often used as bioindicators for measuring and monitoring the concentrations of contaminants in the environment. In this report, the mercury content in different tissues of 32 male robins (Erithacus rubecula) was investigated. The level of mercury contamination in 29 of 32 birds was within tolerable limits. Significantly more mercury was found in feathers than in muscle tissues (α = 0.05). Migratory robins showed slightly higher Hg levels in soft tissues, while residential birds showed higher Hg levels in their plumage. The latter could be an effect of increased Hg deposition in mountain ecosystems, while the higher amounts of Hg ingested by robins in wintering areas may be excreted near the northern montane nesting areas, contributing to increased Hg exposure.
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