This experiment is part of the Wildlife Health and Disease Challenge Grant Challenge Grant. Browse more projects

Building an active surveillance system for lead in Northeastern wildlife

Raised of $4,210 Goal
Funded on 7/03/19
Successfully Funded
  • $4,212
  • 100%
  • Funded
    on 7/03/19



1) Blood lead level will be measured at rehabilitation facilities. Blood feather samples will be digested in nitric acid/hydrogen peroxide for 24 hours. Digested samples are screened using Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy. Samples with low levels of lead will be analyzed using ICP-MS. These methods have been standardized in our lab.

2) Spatial mapping of our lead data with current and historical point sources of lead will be performed using ArcGIS (ESRI 2018. ArcGIS Desktop: Release 10.6.1). Buffer areas of five, twenty-five and fifty miles around each point source will be overlaid with the data we collect from birds.


The challenge is finding if there are 'hot spots' of lead exposure. Finding a bird with high lead levels does not tell us where the specific exposure came from. Hence, most monitoring programs are reactive instead of proactive. This gets particularly complex in migratory birds. The data in this study will provide us with areas where birds have high lead exposure and potential point sources of lead in the geographic area. With this data, we, as this study progresses, can use stable isotope analysis on the feather samples collected and with samples in the geographical area to determine a more accurate geographical source of lead exposure. The overall goal is to understand how this well know toxin is moving from the environment and into wildlife.


This project has not yet shared any protocols.