Cadmium and Lead content in Liver and Kidney tissues of Wild Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura (Linneo, 1758) from Chañaral, Atacama desert, Chile
The Atacama region, Chile, presents one of the highest levels of mining exploitation of the country, which leads to high levels of contamination from mine tailings and other related environmental liabilities. One of the most complex situations occurred in the Chañaral city, north of Chile, where for over 50 years mine tailings were dumped on the coast, causing severe damage in the ecosystem. To evaluate the effects on terrestrial biota, we analyzed the concentration of cadmium and lead in tissues of Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura). The results indicate that accumulation of cadmium in kidney was 10.31 μg/g (SD 8.00, range 0.27 to 20.73 μg/g) while in the liver was 5.24 μg/g (SD 8.00, range 0.49 to 19.70). There values are very high when compared to data for other birds with similar ecological role. In relation to the lead, concentration in liver was 0.86 μg/g (SD 2.03, range 0.15 - 7.90), while in kidney was 1.05 μg/g (DS 2.54, range 0.044 to 9.86), values considered within the normal range. It is interesting to analyze from the perspective of the availability of these metals in the mining tailings, where lead (1.57 to 21.2 μg/g) presented higher levels than cadmium (0.061 to 1.085 μg/g). The difference between organs may be related to the role of metallothionein. We discuss the role of Turkey Vulture as a bioindicator of environmental liabilities.