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Relationships Between Metals Exposure and Epidemiological Parameters of Two Pathogens in Urban Pigeons


Human activities often generate or increase concentration of chemical compounds including pesticides, hydrocarbons and metals that can potentially affect ecological interactions. We found that elevated levels of zinc in pigeon feathers were associated with both low prevalence of Chlamydiaceae (ornithosis disease) and low intensity of blood pathogens (Haemosporidian parasites). In contrast, high levels of lead in pigeon feathers were associated with high blood pathogens intensities. Our results suggest that metals linked to human activities in cities such as zinc and lead may play a significant role in the ecology of host–parasite interactions and could potentially affect the epidemiology of diseases in the urban environment.

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We thank Battle Karimi, Marie-Anne Pottier and Audrey Foubert for helping in metals measurements. We thank the AERHO association (C. Dehay), Espace association (Y. Fradin), “Le jardin solidaire” (I. Trinité) and municipal authorities of Paris (T. Charachon) for providing logistic support during the field work. This work was supported by grants from the Ile-de-France Region (Sustainable Development Network R2DS) and the IFR 101 “Ecology, Biodiversity, Evolution, Environment”.

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Correspondence to J. Gasparini.

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Gasparini, J., Jacquin, L., Laroucau, K. et al. Relationships Between Metals Exposure and Epidemiological Parameters of Two Pathogens in Urban Pigeons. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 92, 208–212 (2014).

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  • Wildlife ecotoxicology
  • Host–pathogens interactions
  • Urban pollution