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Environmental Contaminants, Human Disturbance and Nesting of Double-Crested Cormorants in Northwestern Washington

Charles J. Henny, Lawrence J. Blus, Steven P. Thompson and Ulrich W. Wilson
Colonial Waterbirds
Vol. 12, No. 2 (1989), pp. 198-206
Published by: Waterbird Society
DOI: 10.2307/1521341
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1521341
Page Count: 9
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Environmental Contaminants, Human Disturbance and Nesting of Double-Crested Cormorants in Northwestern Washington
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Abstract

Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) in extreme northwestern Washington produced few young (0.27/occupied nest) in 1984; the clutch size was generally small and eggs, if laid at all, were laid later than usual. Residues (geometric means, wet weight) of DDE (0.58 and 0.59 ppm) in eggs from Colville Island and Protection Island were lower than from other locations in the Pacific Northwest, while PCBs (2.19 and 1.37 ppm) were similar to those at most locations. Both contaminants in 1984 were below levels associated with reproductive problems. Eggs also contained concentrations of mercury (0.26 and 0.27 ppm) and selenium (0.31 and 0.28 ppm) below levels associated with reproductive problems. The distribution of nesting colonies in the study area changed dramatically since 1984. The cormorants were most likely responding to increased human disturbance in the San Juan Islands, coupled to additional protection and reduced human activity on Protection and Smith Islands. This presumably led to the abandonment of all nesting islands in the San Juans. The nesting population in the study area in 1988 (all on Protection and Smith Islands) was the highest recorded.

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