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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2004

Radiocaesium in lynx in relation to ground deposition and diet

Ahman B, Wright SM, Howard BJ


The european lynx (Lynx lynx) might be expected to have a high intake of radiocaesium in the parts of Sweden where the main prey of the lynx, namely reindeer and roe deer have high activity concentrations of radiocaesium because of high ground deposition. We have measured Cs-137 in muscle samples from 733 lynx during 1996-2003. The aim was to quantify the extent to which radiocaesium is transferred from fallout deposition to lynx, to test whether the transfer was higher in areas where there are reindeer present, to see if there was any decline in radiocaesium over time, and to calculate the radiation dose to lynx. Most samples were collected in central and northern Sweden during January-April. Activity concentrations in lynx varied from 13 Bq kg(-1) to about 15 kBq kg(-1) fresh weight, with the highest value corresponding to a radiation dose at 18 mGy/year. Aggregated transfer coefficients (Tag), calculated by dividing the Cs-137 activity concentration in lynx muscle by the average ground deposition (total from Chernobyl and nuclear weapon tests) within a 50 km radius around the location of the lynx, varied from 0.004 to 1.3 m(2) kg(-1) and were significantly higher within the reindeer herding area than outside. The concentration ratio (CR) for lynx/reindeer was 2.6 on average, whilst the average for lynx/roe deer outside the reindeer herding area was lower at 1.3. Based on these results, a CR of around 2 could be considered representative for the general ratio between predator and prey. A long-term decline of radiocaesium in prey species was reflected in lynx, with an effective half-life of 7 years from 1996 to 2003. The study shows that the accumulation of radiocaesium in predators, especially predators of reindeer, makes them more vulnerable to high radiocaesium deposition than most other wild species

Published in

Radiation and Environmental Biophysics
2004, volume: 43, number: 2, pages: 119-126
Publisher: SPRINGER

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Unit of Reindeer Husbandry
Howard, B J
Wright, S M

UKÄ Subject classification

Animal and Dairy Science
Veterinary Science

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