The elemental composition of small mammals in a commercial orchard-meadow system

Chemosphere. 2022 Jun;296:134048. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2022.134048. Epub 2022 Feb 23.


We analyze concentrations of various elements in small mammals from commercial orchards and berry plantations and test differences between them depending on species, individual body mass, age, gender, type and age of crop and intensity of applied agricultural measures. Skinned front legs (muscle and bones) were used to register the presence and concentration of Ca, Cd, Mo, Ni, Se, Ag, As, Be, Bi, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Ga, Mg, Mn, Pb, Sr, U, V and Zn. The most abundant species were common vole (Microtus arvalis), yellow-necked (Apodemus flavicollis) and striped field (A. agrarius) mice. The maximum recorded concentrations exceeded the minimums by 1.7-7.7 times in Mg, Zn, Cu, Ga, Ni and Ca, and 11.0-23.2 times in Mn, Be, Mo, Co, Sr, V, Pb and As. The hypothesis that the use of fertilization and pesticides in commercial orchards should induce differences in the elemental concentrations between crop areas and control habitats was confirmed by the higher concentrations of Cu, Mn, Bi, Co, Cr, Fe, Ni, Sr and Pb in rodents from the crop areas. Spatially controlled generalized linear mixed model confirmed the cumulative influence of species and crop, explaining 30-80% of the distribution of Ca, Ni, Co, Cu, Ga, Mn, Pb and U. The effect of species and the age of the individual was significant for Ni, Co, Cu, Fe, Ga, Mn and Pb, while effect of gender was not expressed. Depletion of Cu in older individuals was found in all three species. With species as a grouping factor, the effect of crop type and the intensity of agricultural practices were significant factors in the accumulation of Ca, Ni, Co, Cu, Ga, Mn and Pb, while effect of crop age was not expressed. The obtained elemental concentrations in rodents indicated orchards to be cleaner than heavy polluted areas.

Keywords: Agricultural areas; Elemental composition; Pollution; Rodents.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Animals
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Grassland*
  • Lead
  • Mammals
  • Metals, Heavy* / analysis
  • Mice


  • Metals, Heavy
  • Lead