Lead in terrestrial game birds from Spain

  • Diego RomeroEmail author
  • Antonio de José
  • Juan M. Theureau
  • Andrés Ferrer
  • María D. Raigón
  • Juan B. Torregrosa
Research Article


We analysed exposure to Pb and its relationship with lead-based ammunition in seven species of terrestrial game birds—common woodpigeon (Columba palumbus), rock dove (Columba livia), stock dove (Columba oenas), European turtle-dove (Streptopelia turtur), red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa), Barbary partridge (Alectoris barbara) and common quail (Coturnix coturnix)—from rural and urban areas in different parts of Spain (Valencia, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León, Madrid, Islas Canarias and Navarra). A total of 530 liver samples were analysed, and the presence of Pb pellets was studied in the crop, gizzard and intestine; the state and appearance of these organs were also analysed. The number of specimens suspected to have ingested Pb shot was 28 (5.6%), and the geometric mean concentration of hepatic Pb was 0.054 μg g−1 (wet weight, ww). A low percentage of samples (4.8%) were above the abnormal exposure threshold (0.65 μg g−1 ww), and, in these specimens, renal Pb concentrations were determined. Common woodpigeons and rock doves from Madrid were found to have high concentrations of Pb in their livers, and, so, both species can be considered to be good bioindicators of Pb contamination in rural (common woodpigeons) and urban (rock doves) environments. Partridges bred for hunting may be more prone to ingesting pellets from the environment, a fact that should be taken into account in management decisions.


Ammunition Game birds Lead Liver Spain Terrestrial habitats 



This study was funded by the Spanish Sectoral Federation of Weapons and Ammunition (FSA). The authors would like to thank Miguel A. Sánchez Isarria for his help in collecting samples, to Valentín Urrutia and Inma Salvat for their help in processing the samples, to Alberto Ferrer (Departamento de Estadística e Investigación Operativa Aplicadas y Calidad, Universidad Politécnica de Valencia) for the statistical treatment of the data, and to the Department of Animal Surgery at the Veterinary Clinical Hospital of the University of Murcia for conducting the X-ray analyses of the samples.

Supplementary material

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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Área de Toxicología, Facultad de VeterinariaUniversidad de MurciaMurciaSpain
  2. 2.Alectoris, Ingeniería y GestiónZamoraSpain
  3. 3.Departamento de Ingeniería Rural y Agroalimentaria, Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingeniería Agronómica y del Medio NaturalUniversidad Politécnica de ValenciaCamino de Vera s/nSpain
  4. 4.Departamento de Química, Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingeniería Agronómica y del Medio NaturalUniversidad Politécnica de ValenciaCamino de Vera s/nSpain

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