, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 529-549

Organochlorine pesticide, polychlorobiphenyl, and mercury residues in bald eagle eggs—1969–79—and their relationships to shell thinning and reproduction

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Abstract

Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) eggs were collected in 14 States in 1969–79 and analyzed for organochlorine pesticides, polychlorobiphenyls, and mercury. Moderate shell thinning occurred in eggs from several areas. Eggs from the Chesapeake Bay area contained the highest residue levels of most organochlorines. DDE was detected in all eggs; other organochlorines were detected less frequently. Mercury levels were highest in eggs from Maine. Eight contaminants were significantly negatively correlated with shell thickness or reproduction at sampled breeding areas; DDE was most closely related to these factors. Production of young was near normal at breeding areas when DDE was ⩽3 ppm (wet weight); reproductive failure approached 100% for those breeding areas where DDE in eggs was >15 ppm. Five ppm DDE was associated with 10% shell thinning. The other contaminants that were associated with these factors were also highly correlated with DDE; their impact appeared minor in relation to those of DDE.