Report 390
Wildlife and pollution: 2002/03 Annual Report
Shore, RF, Malcolm, HM, Turk, A, Walker, LA, Wienburg, CL, Wright, JA, Broughton, RK & Wadsworth, RA
Annual reports give an interim summary of results and every three years these annual results are gathered together into a more substantial report in which they are integrated with previous findings.


The Wildlife and Pollution contract covers a long-term monitoring programme, the Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme (PBMS), that examines the levels of certain pollutants in selected wildlife species in Britain. The programme was started in the early 1960s, when there were serious concerns over the effects of organochlorine insecticides and organomercury fungicides on various species of birds and mammals. This early work demonstrated the effects of the organochlorines and eventually contributed to the ban on their use in the UK and abroad. The programme has subsequently assessed the success of these bans by measuring whether there has been a decline in the concentrations of organochlorine pesticides in the livers and eggs of predatory and freshwater fish-eating birds.  Investigations have also been made into the levels of industrial polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), following their identification as pollutants in 1966. Mercury levels, derived from both agricultural and industrial sources, have also been tracked, although mercury concentrations were not measured in birds collected in 2001. In recent years, investigations have been made into the effects of the newest generation of rodenticides on barn owls Tyto alba. Northern gannet Morus bassanus eggs are also collected approximately biennially from two colonies and, when available, from other sites; eggs were last collected in 2002.
This programme is now the longest-running of its kind anywhere in the world and the findings stimulate considerable interest internationally, as well as in Britain. Annual reports give an interim summary of results and every three years these annual results are gathered together into a more substantial report in which they are integrated with previous findings. The latest report of this type covers the period up to and including 2000 (Shore et al., 2005a). Results are published periodically in the scientific literature. This current report presents the results of analyses carried out on material collected in 2002 and the findings of novel work areas agreed in the 2002/2003 work programme.
The Wildlife and Pollution contract has been subject to regular scientific assessments within JNCC’s rolling programme of peer review. As a result of these, some monitoring activities have been modified, so as to allow the initiation of new studies and reorientation of the PBMS so that remains focused on current chemical risks. Most notably, common kestrels Falco tinnunculus are no longer monitored for organochlorines and the intensity of monitoring for organochlorines in sparrowhawks has been reduced. However, kestrels have been monitored for second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides since 2001. This is because an individual study, carried out as part of the PBMS activities, demonstrated that this species may be particularly vulnerable to exposure to these compounds (Shore et al., 2001).  Furthermore, new studies have been initiated to investigate potential risks from other chemicals, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (see section 8 of this report), and these studies draw on the whole range of material submitted by volunteers to the PBMS.
The core PBMS samples used for chemical monitoring are body tissues from the carcasses of sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus, grey heron Ardea cinerea, barn owl Tyto alba, kestrel Falco tinnunclulus, red kite Milvus milvus, and the eggs of  merlin Falco columbarius, golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos, sea eagle Haliaeetus albicilla and gannet Morus bassanus.  Carcasses and eggs of other predatory bird species (such as peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus, common buzzard Buteo buteo, long-eared owl Asio otus, little owl Athene noctua, common kingfisher Alcedo atthis, great crested grebe Podiceps cristatus, and great bittern Botaurus stellaris) which do not form the core part of the PBMS but are sent to the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) by volunteers, are not analysed chemically. However, post-mortem examinations are carried out the carcasses, relevant information is recorded and the cause of death is determined (and reported back to the volunteer who submitted the carcass). Samples of the egg contents and body organs for these species, and those that do form part of the core monitoring, are all archived at -20°C as part of the unique PBMS tissue and egg sample archive (see section 12 of the current report).  This is an invaluable resource and is often used in specific targeted research studies (for example, see section 11 of the current report).  
Each section within the Wildlife and Pollution contract is summarised below. Each is dependent on the provision of material from amateur naturalists and other interested parties, and it is not always possible to obtain desired material for analysis, especially from remote areas.  The results from the core monitoring of organochlorine and mercury concentrations in the livers and eggs of various species and of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides in barn owl and kestrel livers are summarised in sections 1.2-1.6 and in section 1.7, respectively.  The aims and results of novel areas of work on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon concentrations in eggs, unknown compounds in liver tissues, and spatial variation in liver PCB concentrations in terrestrial species are summarised in sections 1.8, 1.9, 1.10, and 1.11, respectively. Updates on the role of the PBMS in monitoring decabromodiphenylether concentrations in predatory birds and on the cataloguing of the PBMS tissue and egg archive are summarised in sections 1.11 and 1.12.
You will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this document.
ISSN 0963-8091
Please cite as: Shore, RF, Malcolm, HM, Turk, A, Walker, LA, Wienburg, CL, Wright, JA, Broughton, RK & Wadsworth, RA, (2006), Wildlife and pollution: 2002/03 Annual Report, JNCC Report 390, ISSN 0963-8091