Mercury and lead concentrations were measured in the livers of cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis), an aquatic bird species living and nesting in the special, highly protected nature conservation area of Kis-Balaton, Hungary. The measurements of metal concentrations were performed by atomic absorption spectrometry using the cold vapour method for mercury and the electrothermal method for lead. Mercury concentrations in the livers were significantly higher in the adult population (4.479 ± 3.336 mg/kg dry matter, DM) than in the juvenile birds (2.682 ± 2.087 mg/kg DM), indicating an increase of bioaccumulation with age. A similar pattern was not observed for lead. There were no statistical differences between males and females either in mercury or in lead concentrations. The average levels of mercury (3.580 ± 2.906 mg/kg DM) and lead (0.746 ± 0.499 mg/kg DM) were statistically different in the liver. No correlation was found between the concentrations of the two heavy metals. Recently, the wild birds have been chronically exposed to subtoxic amounts of metals which have a tendency to accumulate especially in the soft tissues.
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