, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 225-232

Environmental contaminants in nonviable eggs of the endangered Mississippi sandhill crane (Grus canadensis pulla)

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Abstract

Our objectives were to determine if concentrations of environmental pollutants and microbial contamination in nonviable eggs of the endangered Mississippi sandhill crane (Grus canadensis pulla) contributed to egg failure. Six eggs collected in 1990 and four in 1991 contained only background levels of organochlorine pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and tests for microbial contamination were all negative. Two eggs contained late dead embryos, but neither revealed obvious abnormalities. Three eggs contained potentially harmful concentrations (23, 39, 146 pg/g, wet mass) of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and dibenzofurans (PCDFs), based on 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin equivalents (TCDD-EQ) for combined compounds. Because of the scarcity of material suitable for laboratory examination and the endangered status of the crane, we recommend that nonviable eggs continue to be monitored for toxic pollutants.