Risk assessment of lead poisoning and pesticide exposure in the declining population of red-breasted goose (Branta ruficollis) wintering in Eastern Europe

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid


The red-breasted goose Branta ruficollis is a globally threatened species (IUCN Vulnerable) and the only European goose species currently in decline. Working on the wintering grounds on the Black Sea Coast, we address two potential causes of decline of this species for the first time: lead poisoning, and contamination from pesticides. We quantified the densities of spent Pb shot in three wetlands used by the geese in north-east Bulgaria, and analysed the Pb concentration in the faeces of red-breasted geese and the more abundant greater white-fronted geese Anser albifrons, using Al concentration as an indicator of soil ingestion. Pb shot densities in sediments were low, and we found no evidence for Pb shot ingestion in red-breasted geese. On the other hand, we found that the geese were feeding on wheat whose seeds were treated with four fungicides: thiram, tebuconazole, difenoconazole and fludioxonil, and the two first were even detected in geese faecal samples. Using data on the daily food intake, we estimated the exposure levels of the geese to these fungicides, both by measuring the concentrations remaining on seeds and by estimating the amount used to coat the seeds at the time of sowing. We found that the exposure rates estimated during the sowing period for both geese species can exceed the recognized hazardous doses for thiram, and to a lesser extent for tebuconazole, which indicates that some pesticides may be playing a previously overlooked role in the decline of red-breasted geese.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles