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Nest success, cause-specific nest failure, and hatchability of aquatic birds at selenium-contaminated Kesterson Reservoir and a reference site

June 16, 2010

During 1983-1985, we studied the reproductive success of several species of aquatic birds (coots, ducks, shorebirds, and grebes) nesting at two sites in Merced County, California: a selenium-contaminated site (Kesterson Reservoir) and a nearby reference site (Volta Wildlife Area). We used a computer program (MICROMORT) developed for the analysis of radiotelemetry data (Heisey and Fuller 1985) to estimate nest success and cause-specific failure rates, and then compared these parameters and hatchability between sites and among years. Nest success and causes of failure varied by species, site, and year. The most important causes of nest failure were usually predation, desertion, and water-level changes. However, embryotoxicosis (mortality, deformity, and lack of embryonic development) was the most important cause of nest failure in Eared Grebes (Podiceps nigricollis) at Kesterson Reservoir. Embryotoxicosis also reduced the hatchability of eggs of all other species at Kesterson in one or more years; embryonic mortality occurred rarely at Volta, and abnormalities were not observed.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1989
Title Nest success, cause-specific nest failure, and hatchability of aquatic birds at selenium-contaminated Kesterson Reservoir and a reference site
DOI 10.2307/1368061
Authors Harry M. Ohlendorf, Roger L. Hothem, Daniel Welsh
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title The Condor
Series Number
Index ID 5222305
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Patuxent Wildlife Research Center