, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 563-568
Date: 30 Sep 2005

Organochlorine Contamination and Physiological Responses in Nestling Tree Swallows in Point Pelee National Park, Canada

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Point Pelee National Park in southwestern Ontario, Canada—a major migratory route and vital breeding area for many birds—has localized areas of organochlorine (OC) contamination from the 1950s and 1960s. During 2002, we investigated the effect of tissue OC contaminant levels on the physiology and growth of nestling tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor). Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination in the nestlings positively correlated with hepatic ethoxy-, benzyloxy-, and pentoxyresorufin-o-dealkylase enzyme activities and liver size. Despite detectable physiologic changes associated with body burdens of PCBs, reproductive success of breeding pairs was not affected. Hatching date was negatively correlated with PCB levels, alkoxyresorufin-O-dealkylase (alkROD) activities, liver size, and serum protein levels. alkROD activities were largely dependent on hatching date because insect prey contaminated with PCBs were only abundant during a limited period of time during the breeding season.