Risk to breeding success of ardeids by contaminants in Hong Kong: evidence from trace metals in feathers
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The feathers of two Ardeid species, the Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) and the Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) were collected from six egretries and two egretries respectively, located in different areas in the New Territories of Hong Kong, including the Mai Po Marshes (within a Ramsar site). These feathers were digested and concentrations (姯g dry weight) of copper (4.6-19.4), iron (8.1-641.3), manganese (0.4-19.4), zinc (51.3-183.5), lead (0.1-5.1), cadmium (0.01-0.15), chromium (0.06-1.7) and mercury (0.0-7.1) were determined by ICP-AES, ICP-MS and CVAAS. The levels of manganese, mercury and lead found were equal to or less than the concentrations found in previous investigations, reflecting a slight downward trend most apparent with lead. As a general rule, the levels of lead and mercury were higher in the egretries close to the polluted Deep Bay. A probabilistic risk assessment of the possible adverse effects on the breeding success of the Little Egret was carried out with respect to mercury, lead and cadmium. It was concluded that mercury (0.5-7.1 姯g dry weight feathers) probably has had adverse effects at the Au Tau egretry of the Little Egrets, but there was no evidence of adverse effects at other egretries. The probabilistic analysis also indicated a low likelihood of adverse effects of mercury on the breeding of the Black-crowned Night Herons at A Chau (0.3-1.2 姯g) and Mai Po Village (0.0-1.4 姯g). The evidence for the effects of lead and cadmium was limited but suggested there may possibly be adverse effects with lead but not cadmium.