SREL Reprint #0503




The Role of Banding Studies in Evaluating the Accumulation and Cycling of Radionuclides and Other Environmental Contaminants in Free-Living Birds

I. Lehr Brisbin, Jr. and Jeff Swinebroad



With the recent advent of concern for manís environmental crisis has come a need to study the movement and ultimate fate of a number of contaminating materials which are now being introduced in every increasing quantities into natural ecosystems.  Some of these contaminating materials include chlorinated hydrocarbons and other pesticides, heavy metals such as mercury and cadmium, various other industrial waste products and radioactive materials.  Of all of these contaminants, radioactive materials offer particularly interesting possibilities for studies of the cycling processes by which such substances may move through natural systems and their inhabitants.  This is because of the relative ease with which many of these radioactive substances may be detected and quantified in living subjects.  This then opens the door to studies of free-living individuals which may be captured, have their body burdens of radioisotope contaminant determined, and then be marked for later identification and released.  If this same individual can later be recaptured, its contaminant body burden may be determined once again, and when compared to the previous level, could indicate whether the contamination level had increased, decreased or remained constant during the period that the individual was free.


SREL Reprint #0503

Brisbin, I.L., Jr. and J. Swinebroad. 1975. The role of banding studies in evaluating the accumulation and cycling of radionuclides and other environmental contaminants in free living birds. Eastern Bird Banding Association Newsletter 38:186-192.

To request a reprint