Arsenic (As) has been found at elevated concentrations in irrigation drainwater and in aquatic plants utilized by waterfowl. Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) duckings received an untreated diet (controls) or diets containing 30, 100 or 300 ppm As added as sodium arsenate. After 10 weeks blood and tissue samples were collected for biochemical and histological examination. Arsenic accumulated significantly in brain and liver of ducklings fed 100 or 300 ppm but did not result in histopathological lesions. The 300-ppm dietary As concentration decreased overall growth (weight gain) in males, whereas all concentrations of As decreased overall growth and rate of growth in females. Food consumption was less during the first three weeks in all 300-ppm group and during the second week for the 100-ppm compared to controls. Plasma sorbitol dehydrogenase activity and plasma glucose concentration were higher in the 300-ppm group compared to controls. Plasma triglyceride concentration increased in all As-treated groups. Brain ATP was lower in the 300-ppm group and sodium/potassium-dependent ATPase activity was higher in the 30- and 100-ppm groups. Hepatic glutathione peroxidase activity was lower in the 300-ppm group and malondialdehyde lower in all treatment groups. All treatment levels caused elevation in hepatic glutathione and ATP concentrations. These findings, in combination with altered duckling behavior (increased resting time) suggesting that concentrations of As that have been found in aquatic plants (up to 430 ppm dry weight) could adversely affect normal duckling development.
Additional publication details
Effects of arsenate on growth and physiology in mallard ducklings