Pollen storage by stingless bees as an environmental marker for metal contamination: spatial and temporal distribution of metal elements


  • Nathalia De Oliveira Nascimento Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto
  • Herminio Arias Nalini Junior Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto
  • Fernanda Ataide Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto
  • Adriana Tropia Abreu Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto
  • Yasmine Antonini Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto http://orcid.org/0000-0002-5582-8193




Bee, Pollen, suspended particulate material, mining activities, Iron Quadrangle.


Since the middle of the 20th century, human activities have led to overall ecosystem contamination and to major modifications in landscape structure and composition. Mining activities represent a major source of environmental contamination by metal residues. The objective of our study was to evaluate the presence of heavy metals and other elements on stingless bee pollen, and compare them to samples of Suspended Particulate Material (SPM) in five points a Mineral Province, in Brazil. More than 50 elements were identified by ICP-OES and ICP-MS, after microwave digestion. Overall, we found a strong relation among elements present on pollen and SPM. Samples from the four areas exhibited higher levels of minerals compared to the reference site. Mineral levels varied widely within the two seasonal periods. Some elements, like Pb, Cd, As, Cu, Zn, and Fe were found at levels considered potentially toxic to human health. Pollen stored by stingless bees was a successful bioindicator, and demonstrated the value of quantitative ecological information for detecting air pollution.


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Author Biographies

Nathalia De Oliveira Nascimento, Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto

Laboratorio de Biodiversidade - DEBIO- ICEB

Herminio Arias Nalini Junior, Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto

Laboratório de Geoquímica Ambiental - Departamento de Geologia - UFOP

Fernanda Ataide, Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto

Laboratório de Geoquímica Ambiental - Departamento de Geologia - UFOP

Adriana Tropia Abreu, Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto

Laboratório de Geoquímica Ambiental - Departamento de Geologia - UFOP

Yasmine Antonini, Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto

Laboratorio de Biodiversidade - DEBIO- ICEB


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How to Cite

Nascimento, N. D. O., Nalini Junior, H. A., Ataide, F., Abreu, A. T., & Antonini, Y. (2018). Pollen storage by stingless bees as an environmental marker for metal contamination: spatial and temporal distribution of metal elements. Sociobiology, 65(2), 259–270. https://doi.org/10.13102/sociobiology.v65i2.2078



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