Environmental contaminants in piping plover, least tern, and common tern eggs from coastal Maine - 2003 nesting season.
Steven E. Mierzykowski Kenneth C. Carr
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Maine's coastal islands and beaches provide important nesting habitat for piping plover
(Charadrius melodus), least tern (Sterna antillarum), and common tern (Sterna hirundo).
These species are managed and regularly monitored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service (USFWS), the National Audubon Society, and other partners in the Gulf of
Maine Seabird Working Group (GOMSWG). Each nesting season, the number of nesting
plover and tern pairs is recorded and fledgling production is measured. Adult, chick, or
egg predation is also noted and examined. Many factors influence annual productivity or
survival of plovers and terns including habitat loss or alteration, predation, human
disturbance, and pollution. In Maine, relatively few contaminant investigations have
been performed with piping plover, least terns and common terns, and little is known
about current body burdens of contaminants in these species.
During annual GOMSWG censuses, wildlife biologists, beach wardens, park managers,
and island interns regularly encounter abandoned nests, flooded nests, or nests with
nonviable tern and plover eggs. In 2003, USFWS personnel and GOMSWG cooperators
opportunistically collected unhatched eggs from piping plover, least tern, and common
tern nests from seven locations. These eggs were analyzed to determine concentrations
of organochlorine compounds and inorganic elements.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
http://www.fws.gov/northeast/mainecontaminants/pdf/PIPL%20LETE%20COTE%20Report%2004.pdf, 1 MB
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Maine Contaminants Program