Using feathers to assess risk of mercury and selenium to bald eagle reproduction in the Great Lakes region

  • W. W. BowermanIV
  • E. D. Evans
  • J. P. Giesy
  • S. Postupalsky
Article

Abstract

Mercury (Hg) and selenium (Se) concentrations were determined in feathers of nestling and adult bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in the Great Lakes region, 1985–1989. Relationships between concentrations and two measures of reproduction, productivity and nesting success, were examined. Hg and Se were detected in all feathers analyzed. A maximum concentration of 66 mg/kg Hg was found in adult feathers in the upper peninsula of Michigan. The geometric means of Hg in adult feathers for sample areas were: interior lower peninsula of Michigan, 21 mg/kg; interior upper peninsula of Michigan, 21 mg/kg; Lake Superior, 22 mg/kg; Lakes Michigan and Huron, 20 mg/kg; and Lake Erie, 13 mg/kg. The geometric means of Hg in nestling feathers for sample areas were: interior lower peninsula of Michigan, 8.8 mg/kg; interior upper peninsula of Michigan, 8.1 mg/kg; Lake Superior, 8.7 mg/kg; Lakes Michigan and Huron, 8.0 mg/kg; Lake Erie, 3.7 mg/kg; and Voyageurs National Park, 20 mg/kg. Se concentrations were not significantly different across regions or between adult and nestling feathers, and Se concentrations ranged from 0.8 to 3.2 mg/kg.

No significant relationships between adult or nestling feather concentrations and either measure of reproduction, productivity or nesting success, was found for either Hg or Se. It was concluded that neither Hg nor Se concentrations are currently affecting bald eagle reproduction in the Great Lakes region.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Anthony RG, Garrett MG, Schuler CA (1993) Environmental contaminants in bald eagles in the Columbia River Estuary. J Wildl Manage 57:10–19Google Scholar
  2. Barr JF (1986) Population dynamics of the common loon (Gavia immer) associated with mercury-contaminated waters in northwestern Ontario. Occasional Paper No 56, Can Wildl Serv, Ottawa, CanadaGoogle Scholar
  3. Berg W, Johnels A, Sjostrand B, Westermark T (1966) Mercury content in feathers of Swedish birds from the past 100 years. Oikos 17:71–83Google Scholar
  4. Best DA, Bowerman WW, Kubiak TJ, Winterstein SR, Postupalsky S, Shieldcastle M (1994) Reproductive impairment of bald eagles along the Great Lakes shorelines of Michigan and Ohio. In: IV world conference on birds of prey and owls, Berlin, GermanyGoogle Scholar
  5. Borg K, Erne K, Hanko E, Wanntrop H (1970) Experimental secondary methyl mercury poisoning in the goshawk (Accipiter gentilis). Environ Pollut 1:91–104Google Scholar
  6. Bowerman WW (1993) Regulation of bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) productivity in the Great Lakes Basin: An ecological and toxicological approach. Unpubl PhD dissertation, Michigan State Univ, E Lansing, MIGoogle Scholar
  7. Braune BM, Gaskin DE (1987) Mercury levels in Bonaparte's gulls (Larus philadephia) during autumn molt in the Quoddy Region, New Brunswick, Canada. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 16:539–549Google Scholar
  8. Bühler U, Norheim G (1982) The mercury content in feathers of the sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus in Norway. Fuana Norv Ser C Cinclus 5:43–46Google Scholar
  9. Burger J (1993) Metals in avian feathers: Bioindicators of environmental pollution. Rev Environ Toxicol 5:203–311Google Scholar
  10. Eisler R (1985) Selenium hazards to fish, wildlife and invertebrates: A synoptic review. Biol Rep 85(1.10). US Fish and Wildl Serv, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  11. Evans E, Wilson M, Creal W (1991) Assessment of mercury contamination in selected Michigan lakes, 1987–90: Historical trends, environmental correlates, and potential sources. Michigan Dept Nat Resour Staff Rep Surface Water Qual Div, Great Lakes Environ Assessment Section, Water Qual Appraisal Unit, Lansing, MIGoogle Scholar
  12. Evans E (1993) Mercury and other metals in bald eagle feathers and other tissues from Michigan, nearby areas of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Ontario, and Alaska 1985–1989. Michigan Dept Nat Resour Staff Rep Wildl Div, Natural Heritage Program, Lansing, MIGoogle Scholar
  13. Fimreite N, Karstad L (1971) Effects of dietary methylmercury on red-tailed hawks. J Wildl Manage 35:293–300Google Scholar
  14. Fimreite N (1979) Accumulation and effects of mercury on birds. In JO Nriagu (ed), The biogeochemistry of mercury in the environment. Elsevier/North-Holland, Amsterdam, pp 602–627Google Scholar
  15. Frenzel RW (1984) Environmental contaminants and ecology of bald eagles in southcentral Oregon. Unpubl PhD thesis, Oreg St Univ, Corvallis, ORGoogle Scholar
  16. Hakkinen I, Hasanen E (1980) Mercury in eggs and nestling of the osprey, Pandion haliaetus, in Finland and its bioaccumulation from fish. Annu Zoologia Fennici 17:131–139Google Scholar
  17. Heinz GH (1979) Methylmercury: Reproductive and behavioral effects on three generations of mallard ducks. J Wildl Manage 42:394–401Google Scholar
  18. Helander B, Olsson M, Reutergårdh L (1982) Residue levels of organochlorine and mercury compounds in unhatched eggs and the relationship to breeding success in white-tailed sea eagles Haliaeetus albicilla in Sweden. Holarctic Ecol 5:349–366Google Scholar
  19. Hoffman DJ, Ohlendorf HM, Aldrich TW (1988) Selenium teratogenicity in natural populations of aquatic birds in central California. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 7:519–525Google Scholar
  20. Honda K, Marcovecchio J, Kan S, Tatsukawas R, Ogi H (1990) Metal concentrations in pelagic seabirds from the north Pacific Ocean. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 19:704–711Google Scholar
  21. Jenkins D (1980) Biological monitoring of toxic trace metals. Vol 2, Toxic trace metals in plants and animals of the world. EPA-600/3–80–091. US Environ Protection Agency, Las Vegas, NVGoogle Scholar
  22. Johnson M (1987) Trace element loadings to sediments of fourteen Ontario lakes and correlations with concentrations in fish. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 44:3–13Google Scholar
  23. Koivusaari J, Nuuja I, Palokangus R, Finnlund M (1980) Relationships between productivity, eggshell thickness and pollutant contents of addled eggs in the population of white-tailed eagles Haliaëtus albicilla L in Finland during 1969–1978. Environ Pollut (Ser A) 23:41–52Google Scholar
  24. MDNR (1981) Quality assurance for water and sediment sampling. Publ No 3730–0028. Environ Protection Bureau, Michigan Dept Nat Resour, Lansing, MIGoogle Scholar
  25. — (1987) Analytical methods for environmental samples. Environ Protection Bureau, Michigan Dept Nat Resour, Lansing, MIGoogle Scholar
  26. Miller RG (1981) Simultaneous statistical inference. Springer-Verlag, NYGoogle Scholar
  27. Norheim G, Froslic A (1978) The degree of methylation and organ distribution in some birds of prey in Norway. Acta Pharmacol Toxicol 43:196–204Google Scholar
  28. Norton S, Hess C, Davis R (1981) Rates of accumulation of heavy metals in pre- and post-European sediments in New England lakes. In S Eisenreich (ed) Atmospheric pollutants in natural waters, Ann Arbor Science Publishers, Ann Arbor, MIGoogle Scholar
  29. Nriagu JO (1990) Global metal pollution: Poisoning the biosphere? Environ 32(7):7–11, 28–33Google Scholar
  30. Ohlendorf H, Hoffman D, Saiki M, Aldrich T (1986) Embryonic mortality and abnormalities of aquatic birds: apparent impacts of selenium from irrigation drainwater. Sci Tot Environ 52:49–63Google Scholar
  31. Postupalsky S (1974) Raptor reproductive success: Some problems with methods, criteria, and terminology. In FN Hamerstrom, Jr, BE Harrell, RR Ohlendorff (eds), Management of raptors. Proceed Conf Raptor Conserv Techn, Fort Collins, CO, pp 21–31Google Scholar
  32. SAS Institute Inc (1991) SAS/STAT version 6.06. Carey, NCGoogle Scholar
  33. Scanlon PF, Oderwald RG, Dietrick TJ, Coggin JL (1980) Heavy metal concentrations in feathers of ruffed grouse shot by Virginia hunters. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 25:947–949Google Scholar
  34. Tejning S (1967) Biological effects of methyl mercury diacyaniamide-treated grain in the domestic fowl Gallus gallus L. Oikos Suppl 8:1–116Google Scholar
  35. Westermark T, Odsjo T, Johnels A (1975) Mercury content of bird feathers before and after Swedish ban on alkyl mercury in agriculture. Ambio 4:87–92Google Scholar
  36. Wiemeyer SN, Lamont TG, Bunck CM, Sindelar CR, Gramlich FJ, Fraser JD, Byrd MA (1984) Organochlorine pesticide, polychlorobiphenyl, and mercury residues in bald eagle eggs—1969–79—and their relationships to shell thinning and reproduction. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 13:529–549Google Scholar
  37. Wong T, Nriagu J, Coker R (1984) Atmospheric input of heavy metals chronicled in lake sediments of the Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada. Chem Geol 44:187–201Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. W. BowermanIV
    • 1
  • E. D. Evans
    • 2
  • J. P. Giesy
    • 1
  • S. Postupalsky
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, 13 Natural Resources Building, Pesticide Research Center, and the Institute for Environmental ToxicologyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  2. 2.Executive Division, Michigan Department of Natural ResourcesLansingUSA
  3. 3.MadisonUSA

Personalised recommendations