Response of common grackles to dietary concentrations of four organophosphate pesticides

  • Christian E. Grue


Behavioral and physiological responses of common grackles to dietary concentrations of dicrotophos, fenitrothion, fenthion, and methyl parathion suggest mortality was largely due to pesticide-induced anorexia. Mortality was dose related, though consumption of treated diets was reduced such that birds on different geometrically arranged concentrations of the same pesticide ingested about the same amount of toxicant. Grackles that died lost an average of 28 to 36% of their initial body weight; visible fat was absent and muscle tissue was reduced on the sternum. Mortality of birds exposed to dicrotophos increased between May and August, although chemical intake remained relatively constant, and was associated with a natural decrease in fat and flesh condition in response to increased ambient temperatures and post-nuptial molt. Food consumption in songbirds exposed to organophosphates may be reduced significantly up to 12 hr after exposure ceases because of an unknown effect of these chemicals on their feeding behavior, but not repellency. The results caution against using median lethal dietary concentrations for other than ranking chemicals based on their relative toxicity, particularly in establishing safe environmental levels, and suggest that anorexia and physiological condition may be important factors in mortality of wild birds exposed to organophosphates.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian E. Grue
    • 1
  1. 1.U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife ServicePatuxent Wildlife Research CenterLaurel

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