Skip to main content

Comparative Tissue Distribution of Heavy Metals in House Sparrow (Passer domesticus, Aves) in Polluted and Reference Sites in Turkey


Bioindicators are useful for environmental monitoring in ecosystems with pollution loads. We compared concentrations of selected 10 metals in 42 samples of House Sparrow in a polluted by thermal power plant and reference sites. We found mean tissue concentrations of some metals to be significantly higher in sparrows from the polluted area when compared to tissues from the reference site. In liver mean concentrations of Cu (35.85 ± 17.22 mg kg−1) and Zn (101.76 ± 26.38 mg kg−1) were significantly higher and concentration of Ni (0.43 ± 0.49 mg kg−1) were significantly lower in sparrows from the polluted area (p < 0.05). The concentration of Cu was significantly higher in muscle and liver at the polluted site. Gender did not seem to influence residue levels, of the elements studied, among sparrows with the exception of kidney cobalt concentrations; which were higher in female sparrows than in males (p < 0.05, t = −2.409).

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Alleva E, Francia N, Pandolfi M, Marinis AMD, Chiarotti F, Santucci D (2006) Organochlorine and heavy-metal contaminants in wild mammals and birds of Urbino-Pesaro Province, Italy: an analytic overview for potential bioindicators. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 51:123–134

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Anderson TR (2006) Biology of the ubiquitous House Sparrow: from genes to populations. Oxford University Press, New York

    Book  Google Scholar 

  3. Baba A, Kaya A, Birsoy YK (2003) The effect of Yatagan Thermal Power Plant (Mugla, Turkey) on the quality of surface and groundwaters. Water Air Soil Pollut 149:93–111

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Bianchi N, Ancora S, Di Fazio N, Leonzio C (2008) Cadmium, lead, and mercury levels in feathers of small passerine birds: noninvasive sampling strategy. Environ Toxicol Chem 27:2064–2070

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Burger J, Bowman R, Woolfenden GE, Gochfeld M (2004) Metal and metalloid concentrations in the eggs of threatened Florida scrub-jays in suburban habitat from south-central Florida. Sci Total Environ 328:185–193

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Chao P, Guangmei Z, Zhengwang Z, Chengyi Z (2003) Metal contamination in tree sparrows in different locations of Beijing. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 71:142–147

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Deng HL, Zhang ZW, Chang CY, Wang Y (2007) Trace metal concentration in Great Tit (Parus major) and Greenfinch (Carduelis sinica) at the Western Mountains of Beijing, China. Environ Pollut 148:620–626

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Eens M, Pinxten R, Verheyen RF, Blust R, Bervoets L (1999) Great and blue tits as indicators of heavy metal contamination in terrestrial ecosystems. Ecotoxicol Environ Safety 44:81–85

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Ek KH, Morrison GM, Lindberg P, Rauch S (2004) Comparative tissue distribution of metals in birds in Sweden using ICP-MS and laser ablation ICP-MS. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 47:259–269

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Feng XB, Qiu GL (2008) Mercury pollution in Guizhou, Southwestern China—an overview. Sci Total Environ 400:227–237

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Lebedeva NV (1997) Accumulation of heavy metals by birds in the southwest of Russia. Russian J Ecol 28:41–46

    Google Scholar 

  12. Nam DH, Anan Y, Ikemoto T, Okabe Y, Kim EY, Subramanian A, Saeki K, Tanabe S (2005) Specific accumulation of 20 trace elements in great cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo) from Japan. Environ Pollut 134:503–514

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Swaileh KM, Sansur R (2006) Monitoring urban heavy metal pollution using the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus). J Environ Monit 8:209–213

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Tovar-Sanchez A, Huerta-Diaz MA, Negro JJ, Bravo MA, Sanudo-Wilhelmy SA (2006) Metal contamination in interstitial waters of Donana Park. J Environ Manag 78(3):286–293

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Vahter M, Akesson A, Liden C, Ceccatelli S, Berglund M (2007) Gender differences in the disposition and toxicity of metals. Environ Res 104:85–95

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references


The research was supported by Mehmet Akif Ersoy University (BAP 0093-NAP-10). We are grateful to H. Kuleaşan and H. Tunçmen who helped with the analyses of the bird samples. We thank Işıl and Deniz Albayrak for their efforts in the field work.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tamer Albayrak.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Albayrak, T., Mor, F. Comparative Tissue Distribution of Heavy Metals in House Sparrow (Passer domesticus, Aves) in Polluted and Reference Sites in Turkey. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 87, 457 (2011).

Download citation


  • House Sparrow
  • Passer domesticus
  • Yatağan Thermal Power Plant
  • Tissue heavy metal levels
  • Bioindicator species