Metal pollution in the urban mosaic: its effects on bird populations

Dr Marion Chatelain
University of Innsbruck, Austria

Venue: Wednesday, 11.12.2019, 13:00, CeNT Lecture Theatre  0142.
How to get there: Lecture theatre 0142 is c. ~15 meters to the right after entering CeNT

Metallic trace elements (MTEs) are divided into essential and non-essential (i.e. toxic) metals. For instance, while zinc is beneficial for all aspects of immunity, lead is responsible for cognitive disorders in humans. Despite anthropogenic activities being responsible for a significant increase in MTE concentrations in the environment, especially in cities, we know little about animal exposure to MTE at a finer environmental scale (i.e. within the urban mosaic) and few studies investigated its effects on wild animal populations; even fewer in the context of urbanisation. The reasons might be two folds: first, correlative studies carried out in urban vs. rural environments often fail to disentangle the effects of inter-correlated environmental factors (e.g. chemical pollution, light pollution, human disturbance); second, experimental studies hardly expose individuals to ecologically relevant metal concentrations. To fill in this gap, I investigated 1) great and blue tit exposure to MTE within 8 cities in Poland and 2) fitness proxies in feral pigeons chronically exposed to lead and/or zinc, and in wild great and blue tit populations nesting along a gradient of urbanisation in Warsaw. I will highlight the effects of MTE exposure on bird reproductive success, its proximate causes and its implication for population evolution within the urban mosaic.