Ecotype Variation in Trace Element Content of Hard Tissues in the European Roe Deer ( Capreolus capreolus )
Animals living in anthropogenic habitats bear a multitude of costs, which are directly or indirectly associated with human activities. Among others, an elevated exposure to environmental pollution can have negative consequences for wildlife populations. We examined the differences in the concentrations of trace elements between the field and forest ecotype of the European roe deer (Capreolus capreolus). Naturally, roe deer inhabited various types of woodlands (forest ecotype), but within the last century, they adapted to life in a human-transformed agricultural areas (field ecotype), which could be associated with an increased exposure to pollution. In this study, we measured concentrations of seven trace metals (barium, copper, iron, lead, manganese, strontium, zinc) and fluoride in skull bones and permanent teeth of more than 230 roe deer from 8 study plots in East-Central Europe. We found that field roe deer had higher concentrations of four trace metals (copper, iron, lead, strontium) and fluoride compared with forest roe deer. These differences were consistent with variations in the general level of environmental contamination within the study plots, as assessed with trace element content in wild plants. Our study indicates that bone and teeth of the European roe deer can be used as a valid indicator of environmental pollution. Also, we expect that elevated exposure of field roe deer to environmental pollution can have negative consequences for wild populations of this species, as well as for the consumers of venison.
Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00244-018-0580-4