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Impact of Sublethal Oil and Emulsion Exposure on the Reproductive Success of Leach's Storm-Petrels: Short and Long-Term Effects

R. G. Butler, A. Harfenist, F. A. Leighton and D. B. Peakall
Journal of Applied Ecology
Vol. 25, No. 1 (Apr., 1988), pp. 125-143
DOI: 10.2307/2403614
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2403614
Page Count: 19
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Impact of Sublethal Oil and Emulsion Exposure on the Reproductive Success of Leach's Storm-Petrels: Short and Long-Term Effects
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Abstract

(1) The short and long-term effects of sublethal exposure to crude oils or an oil-dispersant emulsion on the reproductive success of Leach's storm-petrels (Oceanodroma leucorhoa Vieillot) were examined during a 3-year field study. (2) Adult petrels were captured in their breeding burrows before and after the hatching period at a breeding colony in Newfoundland, Canada. The birds were individually banded, assigned to either control or experimental groups that received one of a variety of toxicant exposures, and then released back into their permanently marked study burrows. (3) The reproductive success of all study birds was monitored for the remainder of the breeding season, and the return rates and breeding performance of some groups were monitored during the second breeding season following initial exposure. (4) The results indicated that: (a) internal or external exposure of adult petrels to some sublethal doses of crude oils or emulsion significantly reduced hatching success and fledging success in a dose-dependent manner, (b) adult petrels were most sensitive to contaminant exposure late in the incubation period and early in the post-hatching period, (c) pollutant-related decreases in reproductive success were probably associated with the temporary abandonment of the nesting burrow by the treated adult, and (d) treated adults generally exhibited normal return rates and breeding performance in the second season after exposure.

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