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    In the present study, the Eurasian magpie (Pica pica), was evaluated as a possible bioindicator of environmental pollution by heavy metals (HMs). Levels of Ni, Pb, Cd, and Hg in feathers of 64 magpies (31 males and 33 females) were measured by ICP-MS technique. Plasmatic biomarkers of oxidative stress (OS) were also assessed. The birds were captured in the province of Parma (Italy), in different capture sites within 1 km from urban area (UZ), and farther than 5 km from urban area (RZ). Median HM levels were 0.68 mg/kg (0.18-2.27), 2.80 mg/kg (0.41-17.7), HM levels were found according to sex, while Ni and Pb were significantly higher in adult compared to young birds (p = 0.047, p = 0.004). Conversely, Cd and Hg levels in young magpies resulted higher than those of adults (p = 0.001 and p = 0.004). No correlation was found between OS biomarkers and HM levels. No differences were found in HM levels according to capture area, except for Hg level, which resulted higher in magpies of RZ (4.05 mg/kg (1.35-12.7)) compared to UZ (2.99 mg/kg (1.54-85.9)). Further experiments are needed to establish whether magpie feathers could represent a suitable non-invasive tool for biomonitoring HMs in the environment.


    Tiziano Iemmi, Alessandro Menozzi, Marcos Pérez-López, Giuseppina Basini, Francesca Grasselli, Simonetta Menotta, Paolo Serventi, Simone Bertini. Heavy Metal Assessment in Feathers of Eurasian Magpies (Pica pica): A Possible Strategy for Monitoring Environmental Contamination? International journal of environmental research and public health. 2021 Mar 14;18(6)

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    PMID: 33799387

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