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Investigation of mercury LC50, tissue distribution, and neurochemistry in house sparrow (Passer domesticus) embryos
Mercury is a known neurotoxin and a contaminant of concern in the Great Lakes region, placing it at the intersection of toxicology and ecology. Though much studied in aquatic systems, research interest in the behavior of mercury in terrestrial systems is growing. Parallel to this, the subject of mercury in songbirds is gathering attention, though little is known yet. House sparrows (Passer domesticus), an invasive species, have yet to be studied in the context of mercury toxicity. As the most widespread songbird in the world, and a species which frequently co-occurs with humans, house sparrows have potential for eventual terrestrial mercury monitoring programs, much as herring gull eggs have been used in the Biodiversity Research Institute’s long-term aquatic mercury monitoring program, MercNet. Early development of an organism is a particularly sensitive time for toxic insult, making it of interest to toxicologists and other public health officials for research, prevention, and monitoring. To examine (1) severity of mercury toxicity, (2) distribution of mercury to developing tissues, and (3) neurochemical changes caused by mercury, house sparrow eggs from established nest boxes at three farms nearby UMBS will be exposed to mercury via well-established “air cell injection” techniques. Tissues will be analyzed for mercury concentrations, and assays will be conducted to examine neurochemical activity.
Years research project active: