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Keywords:

  • Polychlorinated biphenyls;
  • Congener-specific;
  • PCBs;
  • Aquatic birds;
  • Accumulation;
  • Wildlife toxicology

Abstract

Eggs from four aquatic bird species nesting in the Lower Laguna Madre, Texas, were collected to determine differences and similarities in the accumulation of congener-specific polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and to evaluate PCB impacts on reproduction. Because of the different toxicities of PCB congeners, it is important to know which congeners contribute most to total PCBs. The predominant PCB congeners were 153, 138, 180, 110, 118, 187, and 92. Collectively, congeners 153, 138, and 180 accounted for 26 to 42% of total PCBs. Congener 153 was the most abundant in Caspian terns (Sterna caspia) and great blue herons (Ardea herodias) and congener 138 was the most abundant in snowy egrets (Egretta thula) and tricolored herons (Egretta tricolor). Principal component analysis indicated a predominance of higher chlorinated biphenyls in Caspian terns and great blue herons and lower chlorinated biphenyls in tricolored herons. Snowy egrets had a predominance of pentachlorobiphenyls. These results suggest that there are differences in PCB congener patterns in closely related species and that these differences are more likely associated with the species' diet rather than metabolism. Total PCBs were significantly greater (p < 0.05) in Caspian terns than in the other species. Overall, PCBs in eggs of birds from the Lower Laguna Madre were below concentrations known to affect bird reproduction.