Articles | Volume 1, issue 1
25 Sep 2000
 | 25 Sep 2000

Roe deer Capreolus capreolus as an accumulative bioindicator of heavy metals in Slovenia

B. Pokorny

Abstract. Roe deer Capreolus capreolus has often been mentioned in the literature as a good bioindicator of environmental pollution. To find out the levels of heavy metals (Cd, Pb, Hg, As, Zn) in roe deer tissues, this research project was begun near metallurgic and electricity generating centres of Slovenia in 1997. The results of the first sampling year reveal that metal burdens are the highest in the Koroška region, an industrial area in the northern part of Slovenia with a centuries-old tradition of mining and processing of lead ore. Levels (expressed on a wet weight basis) of Cd (2.91 ± 2.92, 7.13 ± 4.43 and 22.7 ± 8.92 mg kg−1 for fawns, yearlings and adults, respectively), As (0.23 ± 0.03 mg kg−1) and Zn (47.1 ± 8.26 mg kg−1) in kidneys as well as levels of Pb (0.71 ± 0.65 mg kg−1) in liver of animals shot in the Koroška region significantly exceed the levels measured in other Slovenian regions. On the contrary, metal levels in viscera of roe deer from the Šalek Valley (where the major Slovene power plant of Šoštanj is located) are low (0.14 ± 0.01, 38.2 ± 4.39 and 0.02 ± 0.03 mg kg−1 for As, Zn and Hg in kidney; 0.21 ± 0.04 mg kg−1 for Pb in liver, respectively). Relatively high levels of Hg (0.23 ± 0.09 mg kg−1; six- to tenfold higher compared to other areas of interest) in kidneys and Pb (0.55 ± 0.13 mg kg−1) in liver of animals shot in the control area of the Triglav National Park, which represents the area without any local emission sources, demonstrate the possibility that animals are being exposed to contaminants that we would not have expected from other data. Consequently, the value of roe deer as an accumulative bioindicator of environmental pollution with heavy metals is clearly confirmed.