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Figueira da Foz, Portugal

Costa R.A.,University of Minho | Eeva T.,University of Turku | Eira C.,Sociedade Portuguesa de Vida Selvagem | Eira C.,University of Aveiro | And 3 more authors.
Ecoscience | Year: 2011

Air pollution has been found to have direct and indirect effects on forest passerines, but there is very little information on the effects of emissions from the pulp and paper industry. This long-term (7 y) study compares breeding parameters of Great tits in industrial and rural sites in maritime pine forests on the west coast of Portugal. We found that Great tits bred earlier, laid more eggs, and produced more fledglings in the industrial area, where we also found a higher biomass of caterpillars, an important food source for tits. There were also differences in ground arthropod numbers, the industrial area having more beetles and millipedes and the rural area more spiders and silverfish. Our results suggest that there are no direct toxic effects of emissions from the paper industry on the study species. However, invertebrate food availability is clearly related to pollution levels, which indirectly affect the breeding performance of the Great tit.


Costa R.A.,University of Minho | Eeva T.,University of Turku | Eira C.,Sociedade Portuguesa de Vida Selvagem | Eira C.,University of Aveiro | And 3 more authors.
Environmental Monitoring and Assessment | Year: 2013

Passerine species have been increasingly used as bioindicators of metal bioaccumulation especially by taking benefit of non-invasive procedures, such as collecting feathers and excrements. In 2009, metal (As, Cd, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb, Se and Zn) concentrations were determined in feathers and excrements of nestling and adult female great tits (Parus major) in industrial (a paper mill) and rural sites in maritime pine forests on the west coast of Portugal. The aim of this study was to compare the levels of metals between the areas but also between sampling methods (feather vs. excrement) and age classes (nestling vs. adult). Although excrements and feathers of nestling great tits showed different concentrations, similar patterns of accumulation were detected in both study areas. There was a significantly higher concentration of mercury in the industrial area and significantly higher concentrations of arsenic in the rural area in both sample types. Metal levels in adult females had quite different results when compared to nestlings, and only nickel presented significantly higher levels near the paper mill. Since metal levels showed a consistent pattern in feathers and excrements of nestling great tits, we conclude that both represent good and non-invasive methods for the evaluation of these elements in polluted areas. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


Costa R.A.,University of Minho | Eeva T.,University of Turku | Eira C.,Sociedade Portuguesa de Vida Selvagem | Eira C.,University of Aveiro | And 4 more authors.
Chemistry and Ecology | Year: 2014

Passerine species have been increasingly used as monitors of metal pollution, especially by making use of non-destructive indicators of bird exposure, such as collecting feathers, faeces or blood. During this study, mercury concentrations were determined in feathers, faeces and blood of nestling great tits (Parus major) in industrial (a paper mill) and rural sites on the west coast of Portugal. The aim of this study was to compare the level of mercury in both areas over the study period, as indicated by nestlings' mercury levels, while assessing possible contamination effects on the breeding performance and health status of great tits. Over the years, feathers showed a significant annual decrease in mercury contamination in the study area. Blood analyses also revealed a significant annual decrease in mercury concentrations, but no significant differences were detected between areas. Faeces data showed no significant difference between years or areas. We found no direct influence of mercury levels on nestling health status or great tit breeding performance. © 2014 Taylor & Francis.

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