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The impact of lead, cadmium, and mercury on the reproduction of mountain hares (Lepus timidus L., 1758) in the north of Krasnoyarsk Krai

Journal: "Foods and Raw materials" Journal (Vol.13, No. 1)

Publication Date:

Authors : ; ; ; ; ;

Page : 178-191

Keywords : Heavy metals; cadmium; lead; mercury; reproduction; warm-blooded animals; corpus luteum; embryo; liver; kidneys; skeletal muscles;

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Reproduction is key to the survival and development of a species. Anthropogenic activities release significant amounts of toxic pollutants into the environment. In this study, we aimed to determine effects of heavy metals on some reproductive parameters of the mountain hare. Female mountain hares (n = 41) were hunted in the reference and industrially polluted areas of Krasnoyarsk Krai during four seasons. Their skeletal muscles, liver, and kidneys were subjected to atomic absorption spectrometry to determine concentrations of lead, cadmium, and mercury. The contents of lead, cadmium, and mercury were significantly higher in the hares from the contaminated areas compared to the reference sites. According to the results, the exposure to lead, cadmium, and mercury had an impact on the reproductive potential of the female mountain hares. In particular, we established correlations between numbers of embryos and corpora lutea and contents of lead in the kidneys and liver, as well as cadmium in the kidneys. The number of corpora lutea and embryonic losses in the female hares from the contaminated areas were higher than those in the hared from reference areas. However, the numbers of embryos did not differ significantly between the compared areas. Our study showed that about 40% of the liver samples and 100% of the muscle tissue samples obtained from the hares in the impact zone contained high concentrations of lead and cadmium. Therefore, hunting in these industrially polluted areas may pose a toxic hazard to the indigenous peoples living there. Further research is needed to assess potential and actual fertility, offspring survival, and other important parameters of mountain hare populations exposed to different levels of chemical pollution.

Last modified: 2024-07-10 17:53:58