Allocation of Metals and Trace Elements in Different Tissues of Piscivorous Species Phalacrocorax carbo

Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2017 Nov;73(4):533-541. doi: 10.1007/s00244-017-0452-3. Epub 2017 Sep 18.


Great cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo) are piscivorous birds, and as apex predators they accumulate high levels of contaminants from the aquatic ecosystems. In the present study, we analyzed distribution of Al, Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Hg, Mn, Ni, Pb, Sr, and Zn in ten tissues (muscle, liver, kidney, spleen, gizzard, heart, skin, lard, breast feathers, and remiges) of the Great cormorants in the Marin Sprud locality, the Danube River, Serbia. Concentrations of elements in tissues were assessed by using inductively coupled plasma optical spectrometry. Linear discriminant analysis indicates that breast feathers and remiges have a high bioaccumulation potential for heavy metals (Cr, Pb, Sr, and Zn). Those tissues had the highest concentrations of lead (Pb) (2.179 ± 0.742; 0628 ± 0.282). Maximum concentrations of mercury (Hg) were detected in liver (30.673 ± 14.081), followed by kidney, for the same element (17.409 ± 5.676), respectively. The overall maximum metal accumulation was observed in breast feathers and remiges, followed by liver and kidney, whereas the minimum values were observed in muscle, skin, and lard. The greatest concentrations of Cr, Ni, Pb, Sr, Zn, and Al were detected in feather tissues. Our study confirms that great cormorant is a good indicator species for monitoring of pollution of river and wetland ecosystems.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Birds / metabolism*
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Environmental Pollutants / metabolism*
  • Metals, Heavy / metabolism*
  • Serbia
  • Trace Elements / metabolism*


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Metals, Heavy
  • Trace Elements