An overview of existing raptor contaminant monitoring activities in Europe

P. Gómez-Ramíreza, R. F. Shore, N.W. van den Brink, A.G.M. van Hattum, J.O. Bustnes, G. Duke, C. Fritsch, A.J. Gracia-Fernandez, B.O. Helander, V. Jaspers, O. Krone, E. Martinez-Lopez, R. Mateo, P.A. Movalli, C. Sonne

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Biomonitoring using raptors as sentinels can provide early warning of the potential impacts of contaminants on humans and the environment and also a means of tracking the success of associated mitigation measures. Examples include detection of heavy metal-induced immune system impairment, PCB-induced altered reproductive impacts, and toxicity associated with lead in shot game. Authorisation of such releases and implementation of mitigation is now increasingly delivered through EU-wide directives but there is little established pan-European monitoring to quantify outcomes. We investigated the potential for EU-wide coordinated contaminant monitoring using raptors as sentinels. We did this using a questionnaire to ascertain the current scale of national activity across 44 European countries. According to this survey, there have been 52 different contaminant monitoring schemes with raptors over the last 50. years. There were active schemes in 15 (predominantly western European) countries and 23 schemes have been running for >. 20. years; most monitoring was conducted for >. 5. years. Legacy persistent organic compounds (specifically organochlorine insecticides and PCBs), and metals/metalloids were monitored in most of the 15 countries. Fungicides, flame retardants and anticoagulant rodenticides were also relatively frequently monitored (each in at least 6 countries). Common buzzard (Buteo buteo), common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), white-tailed sea eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), tawny owl (Strix aluco) and barn owl (Tyto alba) were most commonly monitored (each in 6-10 countries). Feathers and eggs were most widely analysed although many schemes also analysed body tissues. Our study reveals an existing capability across multiple European countries for contaminant monitoring using raptors. However, coordination between existing schemes and expansion of monitoring into Eastern Europe is needed. This would enable assessment of the appropriateness of the EU-regulation of substances that are hazardous to humans and the environment, the effectiveness of EU level mitigation policies, and identify pan-European spatial and temporal trends in current and emerging contaminants of concern. © 2014.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-21
JournalEnvironment International
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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