Site Specific PCB-Correlated Interspecies Differences in Organ Somatic Indices
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We correlated site specific differences in the organ somatic indices of nestlings of five passerine species (tree swallow, red-winged blackbird, house wren, Carolina chickadee, and eastern bluebird) with the degree of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) exposure in ovo and post-hatching. The birds were exposed to PCBs at or downstream of four PCB-contaminated sites. Of the organs evaluated for this paper, brain, bursa, heart, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, spleen, stomach, and thyroid varied significantly (p<0.05) or marginally significantly (0.05<p<0.11) between sites for at least one species. Differences were noted in the direction of the mean SI change (increased or decreased with increasing contaminant exposure by site) between different species for brain, lung, pancreas, spleen and thyroids. Our results indicated that no single passerine species fully represented the response characteristics observed in these species, and no single difference in organ SI should be used in ecotoxicological evaluations. Further, it is critical to include congener analysis in any evaluations since some endpoints in some species correlate well with total TEQs, and some with total PCBs and not TEQs. Some samples containing biologically significant levels of dioxin-like congeners would have been “non-detects” for total PCBs using common analytical methods.