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The price of persistence: Assessing the drivers and health implications of metal levels in indicator carnivores inhabiting an agriculturally fragmented landscape

Evans, Meaghan N., Waller, Simon, Muller, Carsten T., Goossens, Benoit, Smith, Jeremy A., Bakar, Mohd Soffian Abu and Kille, Peter 2021. The price of persistence: Assessing the drivers and health implications of metal levels in indicator carnivores inhabiting an agriculturally fragmented landscape. Environmental Research , 112216. 10.1016/j.envres.2021.112216
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Abstract

Patterns and practices of agricultural expansion threaten the persistence of global biodiversity. Wildlife species surviving large-scale land use changes can be exposed to a suite of contaminants that may deleteriously impact their health. There is a paucity of data concerning the ecotoxicological impacts associated with the global palm oil (Elaeis guineensis) industry. We sampled wild Malay civets (Viverra tangalunga) across a patchwork landscape degraded by oil palm agriculture in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Using a non-lethal methodology, we quantified the levels of 13 essential and non-essential metals within the hair of this adaptable small carnivore. We robustly assessed the biological and environmental drivers of intrapopulation variation in measured levels. Metal concentrations were associated with civet age, weight, proximity to a tributary, and access to oxbow lakes. In a targeted case study, the hair metal profiles of 16 GPS-collared male civets with differing space use patterns were contrasted. Civets that entered oil palm plantations expressed elevated aluminium, cadmium, and lead, and lower mercury hair concentrations compared to civets that remained exclusively within the forest. Finally, we paired hair metal concentrations with 34 blood-based health markers to evaluate the possible sub-lethal physiological effects associated with varied hair metal levels. Our multi-facetted approach establishes these adaptable carnivores as indicator species within an extensively altered ecosystem, and provides critical and timely evidence for future studies.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: Biosciences
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0013-9351
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 26 October 2021
Date of Acceptance: 11 October 2021
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2022 21:39
URI: http://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/145065

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