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Synthesis of tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) data for Beneficial Use Impairment (BUI) assessment at Wisconsin Areas of Concern

March 20, 2018

Assessment of the “Bird or Animal Deformities or Reproductive Problems” Beneficial Use Impairment (BUI) can be accomplished by (1) comparing tissue concentrations to established background and Lowest Observable Effect Level (LOEL) for reproductive effects, or (2) directly measuring reproductive success at Areas of Concern (AOCs) and statistically comparing those rates to minimally impacted reference locations (non-AOCs). Results from recent tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) publications were used to evaluate this BUI based on both approaches. For both endpoints, a 95-percent confidence interval (CI) was used to test for significant differences. Additional information on BUIs, AOCs, and the program in general can be found in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (2012).

For the first metric, there are good background and reproductive effect threshold LOELs for tree swallow egg concentrations for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins and furans (PCDD/Fs), and mercury, as well as, for some other organic and inorganic contaminants. For the second assessment, comparisons were made between AOC and non-AOC sites for reproductive success, which was measured as the daily probability of egg failure and the percentage of eggs laid that hatched. Multistate modeling was used to assess whether there was an association between the daily probability of egg failure and a suite of contaminants, including PCBs, but also whether there was an association with ecological variables, such as female age and date within season. Both of these ecological variables are known to affect hatching success in birds. The objective of this report is to synthesize the previously published information to assist in the assessment of the “Bird or Animal Deformities or Reproductive Problems” BUI at 16 sites within the 5 Wisconsin AOCs (table 1). The logic behind this interpretation is applicable to other AOCs as well.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2018
Title Synthesis of tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) data for Beneficial Use Impairment (BUI) assessment at Wisconsin Areas of Concern
DOI 10.3133/ofr20181032
Authors Christine M. Custer, Thomas W. Custer, Paul Dummer
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2018-1032
Index ID ofr20181032
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center