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Endangered Australian top predator is frequently exposed to anticoagulant rodenticides


Pay, JM and Katzner, TE and Hawkins, CE and Barmuta, LA and Brown, WE and Wiersma, JM and Koch, AJ and Mooney, NJ and Cameron, EZ, Endangered Australian top predator is frequently exposed to anticoagulant rodenticides, Science of The Total Environment, 788 Article 147673. ISSN 0048-9697 (2021) [Refereed Article]

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2021 Published by Elsevier B.V.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.147673


Anticoagulant rodenticides (ARs) used to control mammalian pest populations cause secondary exposure of predatory species throughout much of the world. It is important to understand the drivers of non-target AR exposure patterns as context for assessing long-term effects and developing effective mitigation for these toxicants. In Australia, however, little is known about exposure and effects of ARs on predators. We detected AR residues in 74% of 50 opportunistically collected carcasses of the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle (Aquila audax fleayi), an endangered apex predator. In 22% of birds tested, or 31% of those exposed, liver concentrations of second generation ARs (SGARs) were >0.1 mg/kg ww. Eagles were exposed to flocoumafen, a toxicant only available from agricultural suppliers, at an exceptionally high rate (40% of birds tested). Liver SGAR concentrations were positively associated with the proportion of agricultural habitat and human population density in the area around where each eagle died. The high exposure rate in a species not known to regularly prey upon synanthropic rodents supports the hypothesis that apex predators are vulnerable to SGARs. Our results indicate that AR exposure constitutes a previously unrecognized threat to Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagles and highlight the importance of efforts to address non-target AR exposure in Australia.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:rodenticide, environmental contamination, SGARs, secondary poisoning, predator
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Conservation and biodiversity
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:Pay, JM (Dr James Pay)
UTAS Author:Hawkins, CE (Dr Clare Hawkins)
UTAS Author:Barmuta, LA (Associate Professor Leon Barmuta)
UTAS Author:Koch, AJ (Ms Amelia Koch)
UTAS Author:Cameron, EZ (Professor Elissa Cameron)
ID Code:144772
Year Published:2021
Web of Science® Times Cited:5
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2021-06-09
Last Modified:2021-09-01
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