Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Caspian tern reproduction in the Saginaw Bay ecosystem following a 100-year flood event

January 1, 1993

In the 2 years that followed the 100-year flood incident of September 1986 in the Saginaw River/Bay ecosystem, the reproduction of Caspian terns collapsed and then slowly recovered. Egg viability and fledging rates of hatched chicks were drastically depressed in 1987 and 1988. Eggs from clutches laid later in the year were less viable and chicks hatched from these eggs displayed wasting syndromes and deformities. The post-flood rate of deformities in hatched chicks in 1987–1989 was 163-fold greater than background rates for this population in 1962–1967. Embryonic abnormalities and deformities were found in many embryos recovered from dead eggs. Recently published data on planar toxic chemicals from samples of forage fish, tern eggs, and chicks from water birds nesting in the bay implicate planar dioxin-like PCBs 77 and 126 as the sources of these severe bioeffects. The planar PCB congeners accounted for >98% of TCDD-EQ toxicity in the tern eggs, and several were present at levels near or at the LD95 levels each for chicken eggs. Actual TCDD was about 1% of the TCDD-EQ toxicity. Very rapid buildup rates of PCBs were measured in tern eggs. The calculated toxic potency of PCB recovered from tern eggs was about 15-fold greater than parent aroclor 1242 PCB. Smaller tern species were projected to be much more at risk than the larger Caspian tern due to greater standard metabolic rates. The study supports the view that sediment disturbance and sediment banks of toxic chemicals are major threats to upper trophic level fish-eating species.

Publication Year 1993
Title Caspian tern reproduction in the Saginaw Bay ecosystem following a 100-year flood event
DOI 10.1016/S0380-1330(93)71201-0
Authors James P. Ludwig, Heidi J. Auman, Hiroko Kurita, Matthew E. Ludwig, Loraine M. Campbell, John P. Giesy, Donald E. Tillitt, Paul Jones, Nobu Yamashita, Shinsuke Tanabe, Ryo Tatsukawa
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Great Lakes Research
Index ID 70178152
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Columbia Environmental Research Center