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Various species of kestrels have become important bioindicators of environmental quality and test species for comparative toxicology in captivity. At least 7 species of kestrels have been used to document the presence of environmental contamination primarily organochlorines and metals, in at least 15 countries. Captive kestrels have been used in studies involving a wide variety of environmental contaminants and toxicants examining: bioaccumulation; lethal toxicity using acute, chronic, and secondary exposures; effects on reproduction, eggshell thickness, and related enzyme systems; and effects on a wide variety of physiological and biochemical parameters. Field studies have examined the response of kestrels to exposure to insecticides. Kestrels should continue to play a vital role as a bioindicator and raptorial 'white mouse', especially because of their relationship to other falconiformes, several of which have been shown to be extremely sensitive to environmental changes.
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The use of kestrels in toxicology
Raptor Research Foundation, Inc. and MacDonald Raptor Research Centre of McGill University