Variations in heavy metal concentrations among trophic levels of the food webs in two agroecosystems

Published in: African Zoology
Volume 54, issue 1, 2019 , pages: 21–30
DOI: 10.1080/15627020.2019.1583080
Author(s): Mustafa SolimanEntomology Department, Egypt, Mohamed El-ShazlyEntomology Department, Egypt, Emtithal Abd-El-SamieEntomology Department, Egypt, Hamed FayedZoology Department, Egypt


Excessive accumulation of trace metal in soil represents a growing environmental problem posing severe risks to biota, humans and ecosystems. Concentrations of Cd, Pb, Cu and Zn were determined in soil, as well as in representatives of some trophic levels in the terrestrial food webs in two Egyptian agroecosystems; El-Manzala (a rural area located in the northeast of the River Nile Delta) and El-Tebbin (an industrial area located in South Cairo). Representatives of trophic levels included arthropods, amphibians, reptiles, birds and small mammals. Metal concentrations were determined in the leaves of wild plants, bodies of arthropods and livers of vertebrates. Levels of metals in the soil, plants and most animal species were higher in El-Tebbin than El-Manzala. Minimal concentrations of metals were detected more often in plants and in the cattle egret, whereas maximum values were common in the soil, amphibians and a mantid. Accumulation of metals was more frequent in arthropods and other taxa at lower trophic levels of food webs, suggesting that the transfer of metals along the vertebrate food web may be of relatively minor importance. However, of all the metals examined, only Pb was bioaccumulated to any appreciable extent in some of the higher trophic levels. A significant increase in liver mass and relative liver mass of the Norway rat from the polluted site was observed.

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