Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 83–89 | Cite as

Within-and among-clutch variation of organochlorine residues in eggs of black-crowned night-herons

  • Thomas W. Custer
  • Grey Pendleton
  • Harry M. Ohlendorf


Within-clutch variability of DDE and PCB residues in eggs from 62 clutches of black-crowned night-herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) was small (12% and 17%) compared to among-clutch variability (88% and 83%). Significant correlations between concentrations of DDE (median r=0.8885) and of PCBs (median r=0.8244) occurred when 501 correlations were run on two randomly selected eggs from within the same clutch; no significant correlation occurred for either concentrations of DDE (median r=0.0353) or PCBs (median r=−0.0843) when eggs were not restricted to the same clutch but were restricted to the same colony. The probability of finding infrequently detected organochlorine contaminants (e.g., DDT, cis-chlordane) in eggs from the same clutch varied from 43–96% and increased as the chemical became more prevalent and the number of eggs per clutch became smaller. These results further support one of the basic assumptions of the sample egg technique, that the chemical residues in one egg in a clutch accurately reflect residues in the remaining eggs of the clutch.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Blus, L. J.: 1982, ‘Further Interpretation of the Relation of Organochlorine Residues in Brown Pelican Eggs to Reproductive Success’, Environ. Pollut. 28, 15–33.Google Scholar
  2. Custer, T. W., Erwin, R. M., and Stafford, C.: 1983a, ‘Organochlorine Residues in Common Tern Eggs from Nine Atlantic Coast Colonies, 1980’, Col. Water. 6,197–204Google Scholar
  3. Custer, T. W., Hensler, G. L., and Kaiser, T. E.: 1983b, ‘Clutch Size, Reproductive Success, and Organochlorine Contaminants in Atlantic Coast Black-Crowned Night-Herons’, Auk 100, 699–710.Google Scholar
  4. Custer, T. W. and Mitchell, C. A.: 1987, ‘Organochlorine Contaminants and Reproductive Success of Black Skimmers in South Texas, 1984’, J. Field Ornithol. 58, 480–489.Google Scholar
  5. Efron, B. and Gong, G.: 1983, ‘A Leisurely Look at the Bootstrap, the Jackknife, and Cross-Validation’, Amer. Statis. 37, 36–48.Google Scholar
  6. Milliken, A. G. and Johnson, D. E.: 1984, ‘Analysis of Messy Data, Vol. 1: Designed Experiments’, Lifetime Learning Publications, 473 pp.Google Scholar
  7. Mineau, P.: 1982, ‘Levels of Major Organochlorine Contaminants in Sequentally-Laid Herring Gull Eggs’, Chemo. 11, 679–685.Google Scholar
  8. Newton, I. and Bogan, J.: 1978, ‘The Role of Organo-Chlorine Compounds in the Breading of British Sparrowhawks’, J. Appl. Ecol. 15, 105–116.Google Scholar
  9. Nisbet, I. C. T.: 1982, ‘Eggshell Characteristics and Organochlorine Residues in Common Terns: Variation with Egg Sequence’, Col. Water. 5, 139–143.Google Scholar
  10. Ohlendorf, H. M., Klass, E. E., and Kaiser, T. E.: 1978, ‘Environmental Pollutants and Eggshell Thinning in the Black-Crowned Night Heron’, Wading Birds, in Sprunt, A. IV, Ogden, J. C., and Winckler, S. (eds.), National Audubon Society Research Report No. 7, pp. 63–82.Google Scholar
  11. Ohlendorf, H. M., Hothem, R. L., Bunck, C. M., Aldrich, T. W., and Moore, J. F.: 1986, ‘Relationship between Selenium Concentrations and Avian Reproduction’, Trans. N. A. Wildl. Nat. Res. Conf. 51, 330–342.Google Scholar
  12. Potts, G. R.: 1968, ‘Success of Eggs of the Shag on the Farne Islands, Northumberland, in Relation to their Content of Dieldrin and pp ‘DDE’, Nature 217, 1282–1284.Google Scholar
  13. SAS Institute: 1985, ‘SAS User's Guide: Statistices Version 5 Edition’, SAS Institute Inc. Cary, NC, 957 pp.Google Scholar
  14. Shapiro, S. S. and Wilk, M. B.: 1965, ‘An Analysis of Variance Test for Normality (Complete Samples)’, Biometrika 52, 591–611.Google Scholar
  15. Snyder, N. F. R., Snyder, H. A., Lincer, J. L., and Reynolds, R. T.: 1973, ‘Organochlorines, Heavy Metals, and the Biology of North American Accipters’, Bio. Sci. 23, 300–305.Google Scholar
  16. Thompson, N. P., Rankin, P. W., Cowan, P. E., Williams Jr., L. E., and Nesbitt, S. A.: 1977, ‘Chlorinated Hydrocarbon Residues in the Diet and Eggs of the Florida Brown Pelican’, Bull. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 18, 331–339.Google Scholar
  17. Vermeer, K. and Reynolds, L. M.: 1970, ‘Organochlorine Residues in Aquatic Birds in the Canadian Prairie Provinces’, Can. Field-Nat. 84, 117–130.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas W. Custer
    • 1
  • Grey Pendleton
    • 2
  • Harry M. Ohlendorf
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Gulf Coast Research StationU.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceVictoriaUSA
  2. 2.Patuxent Wildlife Research CenterU.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceLaurelUSA
  3. 3.Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Pacific Coast Research StationU.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceDavisUSA
  4. 4.c/o Department of Wildlife and Fisheries BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA

Personalised recommendations