, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 342-350
Date: 24 Sep 2010

Pollution and Its Impact on Wild Animals: A Meta-Analysis on Oxidative Stress


Oxidative stress is the unifying feature underlying the toxicity of anthropogenic pollution (e.g., heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and nitrogen-oxides) and the ultimate culprit in the development of many diseases. Yet, there has been no attempt to summarize the published data on wild terrestrial animals to reveal general trends regarding the effects of pollution on oxidative stress. The main findings of this meta-analysis reveal that, as predicted, there is an overall increase in oxidative stress when exposed to pollution. This is mainly due to a weak overall increase of oxidative damages, although there is some variation across taxa. The reduced form of glutathione (GSH) and its associated enzymes are the most reliable biomarkers. This result is important when choosing biomarkers and when using less-invasive sampling of endangered species, or for longitudinal approaches. To be able to predict future population outcomes, possible treatments, but also evolutionary responses to a changing environment, a greater integration of biotic factors such as temperature, bioavailability of toxic elements, and species-specific responses are needed.