Organochlorine contamination in shorebirds from Washington state and the significance for their falcon predators
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Arctic-breeding shorebirds collected in western Washington state during winter and spring, and a comparative sample collected in coastal California during the winter were analyzed for organochlorine contaminants to determine the potential impact of these residues on populations of peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) and merlins (F. columbarius) which prey upon shorebirds in western Washington. Dunlins (Calidris alpina), an important winter prey for falcons in western Washington, were collected between 1975 and 1981. During winter 1980–81, dunlins carried low organochlorine residues; DDE levels ranged from 0.01 to 1.2 ppm, and PCB levels ranged from 0.02 to 0.82 ppm (wet weight). Levels of other organochlorine contaminants (HCB, Chlordane compounds, Dieldrin, and Heptachlor Epoxide), analyzed in a subsample of dunlins, were consistently lower than DDE and PCB levels, and ranged from 0.001 to 0.22 ppm (wet weight). Dunlins in western Washington did not significantly increase their DDE or PCB burdens over the 1980–81 winter. A decline in DDE residues between 1978 and 1981 was noted, and declines in PCB residues from both 1975 and 1978 to 1980–81 were noted. Residues in other wintering shorebirds from western Washington were similar. Wintering sanderlings (Calidris alba) from California, revealed much higher DDE contamination than in Washington (up to 32 ppm, wet weight). Spring migrant shorebirds in western Washington contained both low and very high DDE residues (up to 417 ppm, wet weight). There is evidence suggesting these high DDE concentrations are accumulated along the Pacific coast of North America.
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