Alligator mississippiensis eggs from organochlorine pesticide (OCP) contaminated sites in Florida exhibit high rates of embryonic mortality compared to reference sites (p<0.05). The objective of the present study was to use captive adult alligators to test the hypotheses that maternal exposure to OCPs results in increased OCP concentrations in eggs, and that increased exposure is associated with increased embryonic mortality. A total of 24 adult alligators (8 males and 16 females) were housed in eight pens. Eight females in four pens were dosed with a mixture of p,p'-DDE, toxaphene, dieldrin, and chlordane at a rate of 0.2 ? 0.01 mg/kg/day for 274 ? 8 days. Treated females produced eggs containing higher OCP concentrations (12,814 ? 813 ng/g yolk) than controls (38 ? 4 ng/g yolk). Eggs of treated females exhibited decreased viability (13 ? 22%) as compared to controls (45 ? 20%). Results indicated that 0.6% of administered OCPs were maternally transferred to the eggs of American alligators, and that maternal exposure is associated with decreased egg/embryo viability in this species.
Additional publication details
Achieving environmentally relevant organochlorine pesticide concentrations in eggs through maternal exposure in Alligator mississippiensis