RESEARCH ARTICLE


Plant and Soil Metal Concentrations in Serpentine Soils and Their Influence on the Diet of Extensive Livestock Animals



Elsa C. D. Ramalhosa1, *, Marta Magalhães2, Ana M. Martins2, Maria J. Afonso3, Paula Plasencia3, Esther Fernández-Núnez4, Marina Castro4
1 Mountain Research Centre (CIMO), ESA- Polytechnic Institute of Bragança, Campus de Sta Apolónia, 5300-253 Bragança, Portugal
2 ESA- Polytechnic Institute of Bragança, Campus de Sta Apolónia, 5300-253 Bragança, Portugal
3 ESTIG - Polytechnic Institute of Bragança, Campus de Sta Apolónia, 5300-253 Bragança, Portugal
4 Departamento de Producción Vegetal y Proyectos de Ingeniería, Escuela Politécnica Superior de Lugo, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela. Campus Universitario, 27002-Lugo, España


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© 2018 Ramalhosa et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode). This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Mountain Research Centre (CIMO), ESA- Polytechnic Institute of Bragança, Campus de Sta Apolónia, 5300-253 Bragança, Portugal; Tel: +351 273 30 3308; E-mail: elsa@ipb.pt


Abstract

Background:

Grazing circuits and resources consumed differ strongly throughout the year and within a territory. For this reason, animals’ diet composition, as well as their exposure to metals, is variable. No studies have been performed on how habitat use affects the metal concentrations to which sheep and goats reared in serpentine soil areas are exposed.

Objective:

The aim of the present study was to investigate the metal exposure of grazing animals raised in a serpentine soil area of the north-east of Portugal, taking into account the spatial distribution of metal concentrations in soils and plants.

Methods:

The habitat use and foraging behaviour of six flocks of sheep and goats were studied. The concentrations of Ca, Mg, Mn, Cr and Ni were determined in the soils and plant species most consumed by those animals.

Results:

The highest Mg, Mn, Cr and Ni concentrations were found in the soils of the ultramafic complex. Ni concentrations above the recommended threshold for agricultural soils (30 μg/g) were found in some sites. A positive correlation between Ni concentration in soils and plants was found (0.634). Ni concentrations higher than 10 µg/g were found in some samples of the following plant species: Sorghum × drummondii (Steud.) Millsp. & Chase,Quercus rotundifolia Lam., Cytisus multiflorus (L’Hér.) Sweet, Cistus ladanifer L. and Erica scoparia L. Significant differences (p ≤ 0.05) in metal concentrations of the plants most consumed by each flock were observed.

Conclusion:

Grazing circuits have an important role in the metal exposure of animals raised in this serpentine soil area.

Keywords: Forage behaviour, Grazing areas, Metals, Serpentine soils, Sheep, Goats.