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Snakes as Novel Biomarkers of Mercury Contamination: A Review.

Rev Environ Contam Toxicol; 249: 133-152, 2020.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-30879139
Mercury (Hg) is an environmental contaminant that has been reported in many wildlife species worldwide. The organic form of Hg bioaccumulates in higher trophic levels, and thus, long-lived predators are at risk for higher Hg exposure. Although ecological risk assessments for contaminants such as Hg include pertinent receptor species, snakes are rarely considered, despite their high trophic status and potential to accumulate high levels of Hg. Our current knowledge of these reptiles suggests that snakes may be useful novel biomarkers to monitor contaminated environments. The few available studies show that snakes can bioaccumulate significant amounts of Hg. However, little is known about the role of snakes in Hg transport in the environment or the individual-level effects of Hg exposure in this group of reptiles. This is a major concern, as snakes often serve as important prey for a variety of taxa within ecosystems (including humans). In this review, we compiled and analyzed the results of over 30 studies to discuss the impact of Hg on snakes, specifically sources of exposure, bioaccumulation, health consequences, and specific scientific knowledge gaps regarding these moderate to high trophic predators.