Seasonal Differences in Contaminant Accumulation in Neotropical Migrant and Resident Songbirds

  • Alejandra R. MaldonadoEmail author
  • Miguel A. Mora
  • José L. Sericano


For many years, it has been hypothesized that Neotropical migrants breeding in the United States and Canada accumulate organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) while on their wintering grounds in Latin America. We investigated the seasonal accumulation of persistent organic pollutant (POPs) in migrant and resident passerines in Texas, Yucatán, and Costa Rica collected during the fall, winter, and spring from 2011 to 2013. A total of 153 birds were collected, and all contained detectable levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and OCPs with dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) being the most predominant pesticide. OCPs and PCBs were the predominant contaminants, accounting for ≥80 % of the total POPs burden, whereas PBDEs accounted for ≤16 %. Only spring migrants from Texas had significantly greater DDE concentrations (64.6 ng/g dry weight [dw]) than migrants collected in Costa Rica (23.2 ng/g dw). Resident birds in Texas had significantly greater levels of DDE (121 ng/g dw) and ΣPBDEs (34.8 ng/g dw) compared with residents in Yucatán and Costa Rica. For ΣPCBs, resident birds from Costa Rica had significantly lower concentrations (9.60 ng/g dw) compared with their migrant counterparts (43.7 ng/g dw) and residents from Texas (48.3 ng/g dw) and the Yucatán (32.1 ng/g dw). Migrant and resident passerines had similar congener profiles for PCBs and PBDEs suggesting similar exposure and retention of these contaminants. No significant accumulation of DDE was observed in migrants while on their wintering grounds. Relatively high concentrations of PBDEs in resident birds from Costa Rica warrant future studies of PBDE contamination in Latin America.


PCBs Resident Species Winter Ground PBDE Congener Mirex 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We appreciate the assistance from the personnel of the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, La Selva Biological Research Station, University of Georgia Athens Costa Rica Station, Eugenio Gonzalez from the Texas A&dM University Soltis Center, and private-property owners for providing access to properties as well as logistical and field support. Texas A&M University and the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnolgia grant program and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation provided funding support for this work. We also thank the anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on our manuscript.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 29 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Wildlife and Fisheries SciencesTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  2. 2.Geochemical Environmental Research GroupTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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