Temporal changes in lead levels in common tern feathers in New York and relationship of field levels to adverse effects in the laboratory

Authors

  • Joanna Burger,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey 08855
    2. Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey 08855
    • Department of Biological Sciences, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey 08855, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey 08855
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  • Meredith Horoszewski Lavery,

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey 08855
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  • Michael Gochfeld

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey 08855
    2. Environmental and Community Medicine, UMDNJ, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, New Jersey 08855
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Abstract

In this paper we examine lead levels in the feathers of adult common terns (Sterna hirundo) from 1978 to 1992, compare them to values for other species breeding in the same or nearby colonies from one year (1989), and contrast these levels with those associated with sublethal behavioral and physiological effects in the lab. Lead levels in feathers of common tern decreased significantly from 1978 through 1985, were stable until 1988, and then increased through 1992. The mean levels of lead in feathers of roseate tern (Sterna dougallii), herring gull (Larus argentatus), and black skimmer (Rynchops niger) were slightly higher than those for common terns in 1989. Levels in feathers of some individuals of all species in the wild were within the range associated with behavioral impairment and growth retardation in the lab.

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