An assessment of the global distribution of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) using birds as indicator species.
Dr. Miguel Mora was a guest professor for three months at the Veterinary School of the University of Murcia, in Spain from April until June of 2018. During this time, Dr. Mora worked in collaboration with the Toxicology group led by Dr. Antonio Juan García Fernandez, entitled “An assessment of the global distribution of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) using birds as indicator species.” Dr. Mora’s stay at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Murcia was financed by the Seneca Foundation, through the “Jiménez de la Espada” Program, Province of Murcia, Spain.
Environmental contaminant monitoring studies on avian species in North America and Europe have been conducted for many years, particularly since the discovery of synthetic pesticides and their use in agriculture. As such, the contaminant data resulting from many of these published studies have been captured in databases. These databases are useful for the analysis of trends of particular environmental contaminants on birds. Contaminant trend analyses are important because they allow us to determine whether a particular toxic and persistent compound is decreasing, increasing, or not changing in environmental concentrations. Decreasing trends of p,p’-DDE [(1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl) ethylene)], a metabolite of DDT, in bird compartments have been reported for various regions in North America and Europe. Using data from birds collected in Texas, Mora (1995) reported a decreasing trend in DDE concentrations from 1965-1988. Similarly, data compiled from the Rio Grande, Texas, between 1965 and 1995 suggested a regular decline of DDE, particularly since 1980 (Mora and Wainwright 1998). More recently, other contaminant trend analyses have been obtained with data from species which have been monitored for decades, such as the bald eagle (Haliaetus leucocephalus, Best et al. 2010), osprey (Pandion haliaetus, Henny et al. 2010), red-breasted merganser (Mergus serrator, Heinz et al. 2009); and in marine environments with seabirds (Mallory and Braune 2012), and marine mammals in general (Law et al. 2012, Tanabe and Ramu 2012). A comprehensive assessment of DDE on birds from North America was published recently (Mora et al. 2016). However, other than regional assessments with birds, to our knowledge, currently there is not an integrated assessment of the trends of DDE in birds from a global perspective. Currently, we are conducting an extensive compilation of contaminant data from birds in North America, Europe, and Asia to investigate the temporal and geographic distribution of POPs using birds as indicator species. The results of this assessment will appear on a review paper to be published in the peer-reviewed literature. Our findings could be helpful to better understand the geographic distribution and environmental behavior of persistent organic pollutant in birds across the globe. This project involves collaboration with wildlife ecotoxicologists from Murcia and other regions of Spain. The expertise from Dr. García Fernández at the University of Murcia and various colleagues from Spain and the United Kingdom will be an essential part of this study.