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Effect of sublethal lead exposure on gastric motility of red-tailed hawks


In order to determine the effects of low level lead exposure on gastric motility in raptors, strain gage transducers were surgically implanted on the serosal surface of the muscular stomach of three red-tailed hawks. The frequency and amplitude of gastric contractions during ingestion and early digestion were monitored for 1 week under control conditions and for 3 weeks while the birds were fed 0.82 or 1.64 mg lead (as lead acetate) per kg body weight each day. Exposure to these doses did not appreciably affect either the frequency or amplitude of gastric contractions in these birds. This low level lead exposure also had no consistent effect on the regular egestion of pellets of undigested material by hawks. Daily exposure to doses up to 6.55 mg lead/kg body weight did not affect the frequency or timing of pellet egestion, and exposure to 1.64 mg lead/kg did not affect the gastric contractions associated with pellet egestion. Although gastrointestinal dysfunction is often associated with clinical cases of acute lead toxicity, chronic exposure to these low levels of lead acetate did not significantly alter gastric motility in red-tailed hawks.

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Correspondence to Ellen M. Lawler.

Additional information

This research was partially supported by a grant from the Blandin Foundation of Grand Rapids, Minnesota 55744.

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Lawler, E.M., Duke, G.E. & Redig, P.T. Effect of sublethal lead exposure on gastric motility of red-tailed hawks. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 21, 78–83 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01055560

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  • Waste Water
  • Strain Gage
  • Chronic Exposure
  • Consistent Effect
  • Lead Exposure