The concentrations of trace and non-trace elements were determined in blood and fibers of alpacas (Vicugna pacos) from a north Italian area, as well as in their pasture forages. This is the first investigation regarding this species in Italy, and the first considering alpaca’s fiber as bioindicator worldwide. Metal contents in blood were in the decreasing order: copper > zinc > aluminum > selenium > lead > nickel > manganese > chromium > arsenic and cadmium, while in fiber, metal levels were in the following order: aluminum > zinc > copper > manganese > chromium > nickel > selenium > lead > arsenic and cadmium. Antimony, beryllium, mercury, tin, and thallium were below the limit of quantification (0.010 mg kg−1). The analysis of the alpacas’ forage confirmed the same trend found in fiber, suggesting that metal bioaccumulation was affected by diet. These preliminary results have shown that all the trace elements studied bioaccumulated to a greater extent in the fibers of the alpaca than in the blood. Accordingly, we may suggest that alpaca fibers could be used for monitoring exposure especially to non-essential metals like aluminum, cadmium, and lead, and could constitute a suitable non-invasive method for measuring trace and non-trace element exposure in camelids.
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The authors would like to thank the alpaca farmer Pasquale Scognamiglio from “Il Quadrifoglio Alpaca farm” (Quargnento, AL, Italy) for his help in collecting and providing samples, and for his support and cooperation in this research.
Conflict of Interest
All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
We received blood and fiber samples from an alpaca’s herd. The samples were collected by the local veterinarian for a routine check to determine the nutritional state of the animals and sent to the chemical laboratory. We did not aim to perform any animal research and that nobody of my institution has personally viewed as samples have been collected. Only the private veterinarian who is taking care of the farm directly managed the samples, together with the farmer, but all applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. After evaluating the results, we decided in agreement with the alpaca’s farmer, who is also member of the Italian National Association of alpacas and lamas (SNAEL), that they could be of interest, being data about trace elements in alpacas scarce.
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Squadrone, S., Abete, M.C., Rizzi, M. et al. Bioaccumulation of Trace and Non-trace Elements in Blood and Fibers of Alpacas (Vicugna pacos) that Graze in Italian Pastures. Water Air Soil Pollut 229, 41 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11270-018-3703-7
- Bio indicator
- Trace elements