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Research article2018Peer reviewedOpen access

Seasonal shift of diet in bank voles explains trophic fate of anthropogenic osmium?

Ecke, Frauke; Berglund, Asa M. M.; Rodushkin, Ilia; Engstrom, Emma; Pallavicin, Nicola; Sorlin, Dieke; Nyholm, Erik; Hornfeldt, Birger


Diet shifts are common in mammals and birds, but little is known about how such shifts along the food web affect contaminant exposure. Voles are staple food for many mammalian and avian predators. There is therefore a risk of transfer of contaminants accumulated in voles within the food chain. Osmium is one of the rarest earth elements with osmium tetroxide (OsO4 ) as the most toxic vapor-phase airborne contaminant. Anthropogenic OsO4 accumulates in fruticose lichens that are important winter food of bank voles (Myodes glareolus). Here, we test if a) anthropogenic osmium accumulates in bank voles in winter, and b) accumulation rates and concentrations are lower in autumn when the species is mainly herbivorous. Our study, performed in a boreal forest impacted by anthropogenic osmium, supported the hypotheses for all studied tissues (kidney, liver, lung, muscle and spleen) in 50 studied bank voles. In autumn, osmium concentrations in bank voles were even partly similar to those in the graminivorous field vole (Microtus agrestis: n = 14). In autumn but not in late winter/early spring, osmium concentrations were generally negatively correlated with body weight and root length of the first mandible molar, i.e. proxies of bank vole age. Identified negative correlations between organ-to-body weight ratios and osmium concentrations in late winter/early spring indicate intoxication. Our results suggest unequal accumulation risk for predators feeding on different cohorts of bank voles. (C) 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.


Accumulation; Microtus agrestis; Myodes glareolus; Intoxication; Lichens; Somatic index

Published in

Science of the Total Environment
2018, Volume: 624, pages: 1634-1639