Metal concentrations in feathers of birds from Papua New Guinea forests: Evidence of pollution

Joanna Burger, Mark Laska, Michael Gochfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


We used the feathers of seven species of birds from New Guinea highland forests to examine concentrations of heavy metals and selenium. We tested the null hypotheses that there were no species, food type, or elevation differences in the concentrations of mercury, lead, cadmium, selenium, chromium, and manganese in the feathers of adults. All species had nondetectable levels of mercury (< 10 ppb). There were significant species differences in cadmium, lead, chromium, selenium, and manganese. Common smokey honeyeaters (Melipotes fumigatus, a fruit and flower feeder) had the lowest levels of all metals; blue‐grey robin (Peneothello cyanus, mainly insectivorous) had the highest cadmium and manganese; and several species of birds of paradise (mainly frugivorous) had the highest lead levels. Lead levels were relatively high compared to those reported from feathers of other birds, attributable to the use of leaded gasoline.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1291-1296
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


  • Chromium
  • Feathers
  • Lead
  • Manganese
  • Mercury
  • Metals
  • New Guinea
  • Passerines
  • Selenium


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