Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Examination of contaminant exposure and reproduction of ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) nesting in Delaware Bay and River in 2015

August 7, 2018

A study of ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) nesting in the coastal Inland Bays of Delaware, and the Delaware Bay and Delaware River in 2015 examined spatial and temporal trends in contaminant exposure, food web transfer and reproduction. Concentrations of organochlorine pesticides and metabolites, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), coplanar PCB toxic equivalents, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and other flame retardants in sample eggs were generally greatest in the Delaware River. Concentrations of legacy contaminants in 2015 Delaware Bay eggs were lower than values observed in the 1970s through early 2000s. Several alternative brominated flame retardants were rarely detected, with only TBPH [bis(2-ethylhexyl)-tetrabromophthalate)] present in 5 of 27 samples at <5 ng/g wet weight. No relation was found between p,p′-DDE, total PCBs or total PBDEs in eggs with egg hatching, eggs lost from nests, nestling loss, fledging and nest success. Osprey eggshell thickness recovered to pre-DDT era values, and productivity was adequate to sustain a stable population. Prey fish contaminant concentrations were generally less than those in osprey eggs, with detection frequencies and concentrations greatest in white perch (Morone americana) from Delaware River compared to the Bay. Biomagnification factors from fish to eggs for p,p′-DDE and total PCBs were generally similar to findings from several Chesapeake Bay tributaries. Overall, findings suggest that there have been improvements in Delaware Estuary waterbird habitat compared to the second half of the 20th century. This trend is in part associated with mitigation of some anthropogenic contaminant threats.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2018
Title Examination of contaminant exposure and reproduction of ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) nesting in Delaware Bay and River in 2015
DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.05.068
Authors Barnett A. Rattner, Rebecca S. Lazarus, Thomas G. Bean, Peter C. McGowan, Carl R. Callahan, Richard A. Erickson, Robert Hale
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Science of the Total Environment
Series Number
Index ID 70197345
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Patuxent Wildlife Research Center