An assessment of metal exposure and accumulation in passerines inhabiting artificial nest boxes on the Anaconda Smelter Site, Anaconda, MT
Adair, Blakely McQuiston
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The ubiquitous nature of metals from both natural and anthropogenic sources combined with their necessity in biological processes produces a complex system for study. Metal distributions in abiotic and biotic systems must be examined to accurately assess impact on ecosystems. Wildlife studies of exposure and effect can be challenging, but the results are more complete than evaluation of only metal concentrations. Birds are good sentinel species because they are visible, sensitive to toxicants, and occupy different trophic positions. Therefore, studies assessing avian population status, reproductive success, and toxicological significance of metal exposures can be extrapolated to other wildlife and possibly humans. Biological endpoints, such as ALAD activity and porphyrin concentrations, can act as indicators of exposure to contaminants before signs of overt toxicity occur. Computer models, such as canonical correlation, can aid in describing and predicting the distribution and impact of metals on biological systems.