Are great tits (Parus major) inhabiting the vicinity of a pulp mill healthy? Impacts on physiology and breeding performance.
Norte AC., Sheldon BC., Sousa JP., Tavares PC., Pereira ME., Duarte AC., Ramos JA.
The evaluation of pollution effects on wildlife provides biologically meaningful information concerning environmental quality and possible impacts on populations and can be used as an early warning of environmental change. We aimed to assess the potential effects of exposure to atmospheric pollution from pulp mill emissions on the morphology, physiology, and reproductive performance of the great tit (Parus major). Great tits from a population inhabiting the vicinity of a pulp mill had significantly higher feather mercury levels and were physiologically distinct from other birds not under the direct influence of the pollution source. This distinction, due to significantly higher levels of red blood cell-glutathione peroxidase antioxidant activity, in birds from the vicinity of the pulp mill, was observed both in autumn and winter and was repeatable between years. No detectable effects were observed on breeding performance or nestling morphology and physiology. The effects of pollution in this study seem to be related to increased levels of oxidative stress.