chapter  11
38 Pages

Adrenal Toxicology in Birds: Environmental Contaminants and the Avian Response to Stress

ByRaquel Baos, Julio Blas

Wildlife species show great potential as sentinels for the early detection of adverse health effects of chemicals present in the environment, and thus as potential protectors of human health (Fox, 2001; Sheffield et al., 1998). A common definition for a sentinel species is any life-being (prokaryotic or eukaryotic, natural or transgenic, plant or animal, feral or domesticated) that can be used as an indicator of exposure to or toxicity from environmental contaminants and, therefore, can help to assess potential impacts on similar organisms, on populations or on ecosystems (Lower and Kendall, 1992; Stahl, 1997). The concept is important in the environmental health sciences because sentinel species can provide integrated and relevant information on the types, amounts, availability, and effects of environmental contaminants. Therefore, we can consider, simplistically, that sentinels are signaling potential environmental hazards (LeBlanc, 1995, but see also Frame and Dickerson, 2006).