Environmental Contaminants in Two Composite Samples of Piping Plover Eggs from Delaware
Steven E. Mierzykowski
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During June of 2009, eleven non-viable piping plover (Charadrius melodus) egg were collected from nests located
at the northern end of Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware. The eggs were combined into two composite
samples and analyzed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for organochlorine compounds and trace metals.
Elevated concentrations of organochlorine compounds were not detected in the two composite egg samples.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs, maximum concentration 362.0 parts-per-billion wet weight), DDE (max. 139.9
ppb, wet weight), and polybrominated diphenyl ether (max. 221.1 ppb, wet weight) concentrations were well
below suggested adverse effect thresholds. Twenty-four other organochlorine compounds were detected in the
low parts-per-billion range (< 11 ppb, wet weight) or were below analytical detection limits.
The analytical scan for trace metals included 19 elements. Mercury was detected at 0.116 parts-per-million (ppm,
wet weight) and 0.106 ppm wet weight in the two piping plover composite egg samples. These mercury levels
were similar to concentrations reported in other piping plover egg studies from the Atlantic Coast population and
well below a suggested adverse effect threshold for sensitive bird species (0.25 ppm, wet weight). Selenium levels
in the two composite samples (0.53 ppm, 0.60 ppm; wet weight) were also well below a suggested adverse effect
threshold (3 ppm, wet weight).
Concentrations of strontium in Delaware piping plover eggs (28.4 ppm, dry weight) appeared elevated compared
to studies of other mid-Atlantic coast bird species and to an effect level in black-crowned night heron embryos
(11.3 ppm, dry weight). Once an ecotoxicological threshold for strontium has been established, strontium
concentrations in piping plover eggs may warrant additional study.
Region 5 ID: 53411-1113-0000
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
http://www.fws.gov/northeast/mainecontaminants/pdf/DE_PIPL_Egg_Report.pdf, 400 KB
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Maine Contaminants Program