Environmental risk assessment procedures often use bioaccumulation as a criterion for hazard identification of a polluted location. Field studies regarding metal concentrations in food chains, however, have provided widely different information, because accumulation is shown to vary between the extremes of bioreduction and biomagnification. Bioaccumulation models provide insight regarding species-specific uptake and elimination kinetics of metals and assist in the interpretation of field data. Here, we use the bioaccumulation model OMEGA (Optimal Modeling for Ecotoxicological Applications) to estimate cadmium accumulation in herbivorous voles and carnivorous shrews. In addition to model validation, a meta-analysis of cadmium accumulation data is performed, because earlier studies generally have focused on relationships between cadmium concentrations in either specific tissues (kidney and liver) or whole-body concentrations and total soil levels. Additionally, we included the food—small mammal relationship. Our results show that cadmium whole-body concentrations are significantly related to cadmium levels in food items such as earthworms and plants. In addition, a significant relationship is found between cadmium accumulation in the liver and kidney of small mammals and total soil levels. Cadmium concentrations in shrews typically are an order of magnitude higher than metal levels in voles as a result of higher metal accumulation in earthworms compared to plants. Model predictions for both voles and shrews are in good agreement with field observations; deviations generally are within a factor of five. Small mammals prevent cadmium toxicity by binding this metal to metallothionein, which likely results in low elimination rates. Comparison with empirical elimination rates shows that rate constants of loss are accurately predicted assuming that cadmium is only released via growth dilution.
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