Did you know we study Mercury contamination by assessing bird feathers? The contamination of our ecosystem by Mercury is growing every day and its impact needs to be measured.
Studies show Mercury is a global pollutant and mostly for wetlands. Birds aid in the biomonitoring of mercury in our ecosystem. Scientists research few bird species and understand how contamination of water and the Earth by mercury can be assessed by bird feathers.
Yes, feathers can be used as a tool for measuring the concentration of Mercury. But the concentration in the bird’s feathers may be wary, as per the area. Because in some studies we see that the same species but from different areas may have different levels of Hg concentration. And the concentration level is also dependent upon some physical and biological changes in birds, like molting, and mating.
Scientists experimenting on wetlands selected some species for the experiment. Some of the species are Greylag goose, Northern pintail, Gadwall, Mallard, Eurasian bittern, Little bittern, and Common hoopoe.
Feathers are collected once from the birds, two from the inner part and two from the outer part of the wings. After carefully cleaning them, they are cut into 1 mm pieces and analysed for mercury contamination.
Mercury concentration varied according to the species, area of the study, and also body size. The various observations and tests assessed that Hg concentration varies due to body size, physiology, metabolic rate, activities, diet, and its derivatives from the trophic level.
Who would have wondered how these simple birds could help us solve scientific problems? By contamination of the Earth, especially water, we are not just hurting ourselves but are also hurting birds, plants, our food and heading towards doom! How do you think we can stop this? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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