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Contaminant Levels of Osprey Eggs and Prey Reflect Regional Differences in Reproductive Success

Robert J. Steidl, Curtice R. Griffin and Lawrence J. Niles
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 55, No. 4 (Oct., 1991), pp. 601-608
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3809505
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3809505
Page Count: 8
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Contaminant Levels of Osprey Eggs and Prey Reflect Regional Differences in Reproductive Success
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Abstract

To determine if contaminants contributed to low hatching success of ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) nesting near Delaware Bay, we compared levels of organochlorines, mercury, and lead in addled and randomly collected eggs and potential prey from Delaware Bay to a successful population along the Atlantic Coast (<80 km from the Bay colony) and a geographically intermediate population along Maurice River (<40 km from the Bay colony), a tributary of Delaware Bay. Eggs from Delaware Bay contained significantly higher levels of DDE, DDD, PCB's, dieldrin, and heptachlor epoxide than did Atlantic Coast eggs (P < 0.008) and also had thinner eggshells (P = 0.04); eggs from Maurice River had intermediate contaminant levels and eggshell thickness. Contaminant levels in potential prey from each region reflected levels found in eggs, suggesting that ospreys accumulated contaminants on their breeding grounds. Eggshell thickness was most closely correlated with levels of DDD (P = 0.002) and DDE (P = 0.06) in eggs. With the exception of dieldrin (P = 0.003), addled and randomly collected eggs contained similar contaminant levels, although addled eggs contained mirex (P < 0.0001) and lead (P = 0.04) more frequently. Elevated contaminant levels in osprey eggs from Delaware Bay suggest that contaminants from within the Bay contributed to reduced hatching success in this population.

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