Arsenic contamination in wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus) and bank voles (Clethrionomys glareolus) on abandoned mine sites in southwest Britain

B V Erry, M R Macnair, A A Meharg, R F Shore

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Abstract

Arsenic can be highly toxic to mammals but there is relatively little information on its transfer to and uptake by free-living small mammals. The aim of this study was to determine whether intake and accumulation of arsenic by wild rodents living in arsenic-contaminated habitats reflected environmental levels of contamination and varied between species, sexes and age classes. Arsenic concentrations were measured in soil, litter, wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus) and bank voles (Clethrionomys glareolus) from six sites which varied in the extent to which they were contaminated. Arsenic residues on the most contaminated sites were three and two orders of magnitude above background in soil and litter, respectively. Arsenic concentrations in the stomach contents, liver, kidney and whole body of small mammals reflected inter-site differences in environmental contamination. Wood mice and bank voles sn the same sites had similar concentrations of arsenic in their stomach contents and accumulated comparable residues in the liver, kidney and whole body. Female bank voles, but not wood mice, had significantly higher stomach content and liver arsenic concentrations than males. Arsenic concentration in the stomach contents and body tissues did not vary with age class. The bioaccumulation factor (ratio of arsenic concentration in whole body to that in the diet) in wood mice was not significantly different to that in bank voles and was 0.69 for the two species combined, indicating that arsenic was not bioconcentrated in these rodents. Overall, this study has demonstrated that adult and juvenile wood mice and bank voles are exposed to and accumulate similar amounts of arsenic on arsenic-contaminated mine sites and that the extent of accumulation depends upon the level of habitat contamination. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-187
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Volume110
Issue number1
Early online date15 May 2000
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2000

Keywords

  • arsenic
  • small mammals
  • liver
  • kidney
  • whole carcass
  • bioaccumulation factor
  • metal
  • soil
  • vegetation
  • wildlife
  • residues
  • England
  • habitat
  • food

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