University Of Tasmania

File(s) under permanent embargo

Heavy metal bioaccumulation and histopathological alterations in wild Arctic hares (Lepus arcticus) inhabiting a former lead-zinc mine in the Canadian high Arctic: A preliminary study

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 06:23 authored by Amuno, S, Niyogi, S, Amuno, M, Attitaq, J
A preliminary study was undertaken to determine post-mining baseline accumulation of selected trace metals, and histopathological alterations in free-living arctic hares (Lepus arcticus) inhabiting the vicinity of a former lead-zinc mine located on North Baffin Island in the Canadian High Arctic. Trace metal analysis included measurement of As, Cd, Fe, Pb and Zn in tissues, and histopathological assessment comprised of evaluation and scoring the severity of metal-induced hepatic and renal lesions. Metal contents in hepatic and renal tissues from hares from the mine area compared with the reference locations did not differ significantly suggesting that the animals are not uniformly exposed to background levels of metals in the environment. However, relatively higher accumulation pattern of Pb and Cd were noted in liver tissues of hare from the mine area compared to the background area, but did not induce increased lesions. Surface soils near the mine area contained relatively higher levels of trace metals (Zn>Mn>Pb>Cd>As) compared to reference soils, and with soil levels of Cd showing strong correlation with Cd accumulation in kidney tissues. Generally, both case and reference animals showed similar but varying severities of hepatic and renal lesions at the sublethal level, notably vascular congestion, occasional large hepatocyte nuclei, binucleate hepatocytes, yellow-brown pigmentation in the cytoplasm of hepatocytes and clustering of lymphocytes. Only hares with relatively higher accumulation of Pb from the mine area showed evidence of renal edema and hemorrhage of the capsular surface. This study constitutes the first assessment of metal induced histopathological alterations in arctic hares exposed to a historical mining area in the high arctic.


Publication title

Science of the Total Environment








School of Information and Communication Technology


Elsevier Science BV

Place of publication


Rights statement

© 2016 Elsevier B.V.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Biodiversity in Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments

Usage metrics

    University Of Tasmania