Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Pollution of feral pigeon (Columba livia) depends on their age and their health status.

Abstract

Biomonitoring of synanthropic species provides evidence about effects of the pollution in human environment. In the present study, tibia and tarsometatarsal bones were extracted from feral pigeons (Columba livia), found either deceased, or experimentally captured in the lofts of houses in Bratislava, Slovakia. Concentrations of mercury (tarsometatarsus), lead, iron, and zinc (tibia) were analyzed, along with sex and plumage pattern, wing, and tarsometatarsal length. In order to estimate age, lines of arrested growth (LAGs) were used. Results show no significant differences in heavy metal accumulation depending on sex or plumage pattern. However, age-related tarsometatarsus length was correlated to Hg, Pb, and Fe bone level accumulation. Thus, bigger or older pigeons with longer tarsometatarsal bones had higher Hg, Pb, and Fe concentrations. Higher heavy metal concentrations (mainly Fe and Zn) were also present in bones of older deceased individuals with completed LAG. These findings point to chronic accumulation of heavy metals in feral pigeons during their life in polluted environments.