Cadmium makes brittle bones in Rocky Mt. birds

cium in their diets are even more likely to accumulate toxic cadmium levels. He discovered the most profound cadmium problems among female grouse, which stay in the mining areas during the winter months when willows are their principal source of sustenance.

"Birds in the winter really get hammered," Larison said. "Their bones fracture easily so they die at a younger age and they don't have enough calcium to build normal eggshells." The average ptarmigan could accumulate toxic kidney-cadmium levels after just 600 days of eating cadmium-rich plants, the ecologists estimated for their Nature report.

"The reason that these cadmium-contaminated populations do not go extinct is that new recruits arrive each year from places with normal cadmium levels to replace those that die off," Larison explained.


Contact: Roger Segelken
Cornell University News Service

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