, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 533-537

Organochlorines and trace elements in four colonial waterbird species nesting in the lower Laguna Madre, Texas

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Abstract

Eggs from four aquatic bird species nesting on the National Audubon Sanctuary Islands of the lower Laguna Madre were collected during 1993 and 1994 to determine concentrations of organochlorine compounds and trace metals and to evaluate their possible detrimental effects on birds nesting in this aquatic ecosystem. The only chlorinated hydrocarbons found above detection limits were p,p′-DDE (DDE), p,p′-DDT (DDT), HCB, HCH, chlordane, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Median DDE and PCB levels in eggs of four species were below 1 μg/g ww. Concentrations of DDE were much greater (6–70 fold) than the concentrations of other chlorinated pesticides which were present at or near detection limits. One egg from a snowy egret contained 9.65 μg/g DDE, 0.056 μg/g DDD, and 1.75 μg/g DDT. Ten heavy metals and trace elements (Hg, Se, B, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mg, Mn, Sr, and Zn) were detected in 90% of the samples but at levels that were not of concern. In 1993–1994, concentrations of DDE in eggs of aquatic birds of the lower Laguna Madre were much lower than levels detected in this area during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Concentrations of DDE, PCBs, and trace metals in eggs detected in this study could not be associated with deformities or other detrimental effects on birds.