Heavy Metals in Hair of Wild Canids from the Brazilian Cerrado


In this study, we aimed to assess whether free-ranging wild canids are exposed to heavy metals in one of the most developed and populated regions of Brazil. Hair of 26 wild canids (maned wolves Chrysocyon brachyurus, crab-eating foxes Cerdocyon thous, and hoary foxes Lycalopex vetulus) from the Cerrado biome in Southeast Brazil were analyzed by spectrophotometry to detect cadmium, chromium, and lead, and also the essential copper, iron, manganese, and zinc traces. All samples showed traces of copper, iron, manganese, and zinc. Non-essential lead was detected in 57% (2.35 ± 0.99 mg/kg), and chromium in 88% (2.98 ± 1.56 mg/kg) of samples. Cadmium traces (detection limit 0.8 mg/kg) were not found. Crab-eating foxes had more copper, iron, and manganese in hair than maned wolves. Correlations among element levels differed between maned wolves and crab-eating foxes. Concentrations of chromium and lead were outstandingly higher than in wild canids from other areas. Addressing the causes of such levels and the impacts of the heavy metal pollution in Neotropical ecosystems is urgent for animal health and conservation purposes. We argue that heavy metal pollution should be considered as dangerous threats to wildlife health in Brazil and recommend hair sampling as a biomonitoring tool for heavy metals in Neotropical terrestrial mammals.

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We would like to thank the research group in Buenos Aires Farm, especially Joanna Van de Schepop, Miguel Cançado and Robert Young; inhabitants of the study areas; IBAMA (Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) for licenses conceded. The anonymous reviewers offered valuable comments that helped to improve the manuscript. We would like to thank Fundação O Boticário de Proteção à Natureza and PLANTAR S.A. for the financial support.

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Correspondence to Nelson Henrique de Almeida Curi.

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Curi, N.H.d.A., Brait, C.H.H., Filho, N.R.A. et al. Heavy Metals in Hair of Wild Canids from the Brazilian Cerrado. Biol Trace Elem Res 147, 97–102 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12011-011-9303-7

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  • Cerdocyon thous
  • Chrysocyon brachyurus
  • Heavy metal pollution
  • Lycalopex vetulus
  • Wild canid conservation