Temporal kinetics of fluoride accumulation: from fetal to adult deer
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In June 2011, a volcano deposited about 100 million tons of tephra over parts of Chile and over 36 million ha of Argentina. Initially, fluoride was considered irrelevant; however, recently wild deer exhibited strong fluorosis, with fluoride level increasing 38-fold among severely affected deer. Whereas mothers averaged 2,151 ppm, their late-term fetuses had only 19.8 ppm, indicating a barrier to fluoride transport in utero. Levels among four age classes increased significantly, at a rate of about 1,000 ppm/year. The temporal kinetics of accumulation suggests that sources of available fluoride are highly effective. Thus, compared to prior background levels (63 ppm in adults) and to fetuses starting at about 20 ppm, 1-year-old calves averaged 1,035 ppm (maximum 1,830 ppm), 2-year olds averaged 2,151 ppm (maximum 2,513 ppm), and older deer averaged 2,806 ppm (maximum 5,175 ppm). As osteofluorosis occurs in deer with >4,000 ppm, accumulation of 1,000 ppm/year would result in adults reaching levels causing osteopathology in 1–2 years. Importantly, impacts may be further exacerbated by regional iodine and selenium deficiencies. Iodine deficiency may increase incidences of dental fluorosis and severity of damages, while selenium deficiency impacts iodine metabolism. Fluorosis will affect population dynamics, morbidity, predation susceptibility, and other ecosystem components like scavenger and plant communities.
KeywordsCervids Cervus elaphus Fluorosis Kinetics Pathology Tephra Volcanic eruption
This research was done on private land within a natural reserve of the Argentine Administración de Parques Nacionales (permit 070-2012). The authors are grateful to Juan Jones, Konrad Bailey, Pio Pigorini, Lalo Martinez, and Ricky Aquirre for facilitating access and allowing us to work on their properties. Logistics were provided by DeerLab, Argentina, and we also thank Swazi New Zealand for protective field garments, Rubén Kodjaian for providing our office with crucial logistics via the Hostería El Retorno, and Beat Fuchs for his dedicated field assistance.
Conflict of interest
The authors declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
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