Condition and Health of Rufous Bush Robin (Cercotrichas galactotes) Nestlings in a Polluted Oasis Habitat in Southern Tunisia
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We investigated whether the proximity to the Gabès-Ghannouche factory complex of phosphate treatment, in south-eastern Tunisia, was associated with notable changes in the condition and health of Rufous bush robin (Cercotrichas galactotes) nestlings hatched in the neighbouring oasis habitat. Results demonstrated that excrements of nestlings hatched in one oasis close to the factory complex contained higher concentrations of lead and zinc than the excrements of nestlings from one oasis situated 20 km away. Furthermore, when effects of age and nestling number in the nest were controlled, nestlings hatched near the factory complex showed reduced tarsus length, rectrix length, haematocrit level and haemoglobin concentration, but higher levels of fluctuating asymmetry compared to those from the more distant oasis. Overall, results suggest that the proximity to the factory complex was associated with increased exposure to metals and deterioration in nestling condition and development.
KeywordsCadmium Biomarkers North Africa Passerines Lead Zinc
We are grateful to M. Ltifi who helped in data collection and to A. Hammouda for laboratory assistance.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
This study complied with the Tunisian laws regarding wild animal sampling. Authorizations were obtained from the forest service in the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture (Permit No. 1047-DGF/DGP). All applicable international and national guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.
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