Plasma cholinesterases for monitoring pesticide exposure in Nearctic-Neotropical migratory shorebirds

TitlePlasma cholinesterases for monitoring pesticide exposure in Nearctic-Neotropical migratory shorebirds
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsStrum, KM, Alfaro-Barrios, M, Haase, B, Hooper, MJ, Johnson, KA, Lanctot, RB, Lesterhuis, AJ, López, L, Matz, AC, Morales, C, Paulson, B, Sandercock, BK, Torres-Dowdall, J, Zaccagnini, ME
JournalOrnithología Neotropical
Volume19 (Suppl)
Pagination641 -651
Accession NumberKNZ001159

Organophosphorus (OP) and carbamate (CB) pesticides are commonly used agrochemicals throughout the Western Hemisphere. These pesticides have caused mortalities in migratory birds and adverse physiological effects in trials with captive birds. Migratory shorebirds use a variety, of habitats during the austral summer in temperate South America and during migration through the Great Plains of the United States. Habitats where risk of exposure is high include rice fields and turf grass farms where agrochemicals are used. Cholinesterase (ChE) is a specific biomarker for monitoring OP and CB exposure and can be measured using standard laboratory procedures. Plasma ChE activity is useful as a non-lethal means of monitoring avian exposure to OP and CB pesticides. Many variables can affect enzyme activity and reactivation assays are not always possible, thus reference ChE values are a necessary component of monitoring exposure. During northbound migration in 2006, we sampled four upland and five wetland shore-bird species at four pesticide-free sites in North America, characterizing and measuring plasma ChEs in all shorebird species. Small-bodied species had higher levels of ChE activity in plasma than large-bodied species. Acetylcholinesterase (AChE), the enzyme whose inhibition leads to poisoning symptoms, showed less inter-specific variation than butyrylcholinesterase (BChE). Plasma ChE activities varied with date of capture in three of five species. Sex differences were significant in one of two species tested. Our baseline ChE values for migratory shorebirds provide a framework for future ecotoxicological studies of Nearctic-Neotropical migrant shorebirds.