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Organochlorine residues in eggs of black-crowned night herons from Colorado and Wyoming

January 1, 1984

Eggs of black-crowned night-herons Nycticorax nycticorax (L.) were collected for analysis from seven nesting sites in Colorado and Wyoming in 1979. One egg was taken per nest from as many as 20 nests per site during early incubation. The nests were marked and revisited after hatching, but before fledging, to record the number of live young. DDE was detected in all of the collected eggs (total 147) at a mean concentration of 3.1 ppm, fresh basis (residue means are geometric). Mean DDE at the seven sites varied from 1.8 to 7.6 ppm. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were detected in 81 eggs (mean 1.0 ppm); the highest mean at any site was 2.2 ppm. Twelve other organochlorines were each detected in 1 to 30 eggs, usually at a concentration of > 1.0 ppm. Mean total organochlorines in the eggs from the seven sites ranged from 2.0 to 10.1 ppm and the median number of compounds per egg ranged from one to five. Eggshell thickness was negatively correlated (p > 0.001, r = – 0.585) with DDE levels in the 147 eggs. Average shell thickness (0.258 ± 0.030 mm) was 8.8% lower than the average thickness (0.283 ± 0.016mm) of 40 pre-DDT eggs from this region. The nesting sites with the highest DDE and total organochlorine residues in the eggs had the thinnest shells, produced the fewest young and had more nonviable eggs and dead young. At four of the seven sites, the average number of live young per nest was > 2.0, the minimum long-term mean required for population maintenance. The source of the contaminants found in the heron eggs in this study was not determined.

Publication Year 1984
Title Organochlorine residues in eggs of black-crowned night herons from Colorado and Wyoming
DOI 10.1002/etc.5620030302
Authors L. C. McEwen, C. J. Stafford, Gary L. Hensler
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Index ID 5221937
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Patuxent Wildlife Research Center