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Insectivorous bats as biomonitor of metal exposure in the megalopolis of Mexico and rural environments in Central Mexico

Ramos-H, Daniel, Medellín, Rodrigo A., Morton-Bermea, Ofelia
Environmental research 2020 v.185 pp. 109293
Tadarida, adults, cadmium, chromium, cities, cobalt, copper, emissions, indicator species, insectivores, iron, lead, liver, males, manganese, nickel, pollution, rural areas, sewage, traffic, vanadium, zinc, Mexico
The Megalopolis of Mexico is one of the largest cities in the world and presents substantial problems of metal pollution. Insectivorous bats that inhabit this city are potentially exposed to metals and could therefore serve as a good biomonitor. We collected 70 adult male individuals of Tadarida brasiliensis (Chiroptera: Molossidae) from two areas inside the Megalopolis (Cuautitlán and Xochimilco) and two rural environments in Central Mexico (Tequixquiac and Tlalcozotitlán). We analyzed livers to determine the total concentrations of ten metals by the ICP-MS technique, compared concentrations among study sites to provide evidence of metal exposure, and explored the associations between metals and their accumulation patterns in bats. The hepatic metal concentrations we recorded were generally consistent with those of similar studies in insectivorous bats. Higher concentrations of Cu and Zn in Cuautitlán and Xochimilco bats were associated with vehicular traffic. Higher concentrations of V, Cr, and Co in Tequixquiac bats and Cd in Tlalcozotitlán bats were linked with industrial, agricultural, or sewage sources. Variations in Fe and Mn concentrations were related to geogenic sources or local conditions. Similar Ni and Pb concentrations were linked with strong homeostatic controls or historical pollution. Accumulation patterns showed that all urban bats belonged to a single population with similar degrees of metal exposure, while rural bats belonged to two different populations exposed to different metals. Our results highlight the need to monitor the emissions generated by particular sources in each study site.