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The National Contaminant Monitoring Program (NCBP) is an effort of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to measure concentrations of DDT and other persistent chemicals in the environment and to quantify changes in these levels. The NCBP has established a network of sampling stations in segments of the environment for which Federal agencies have authority. The wildlife component of this program, administered by the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, includes the periodic sampling of European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), and American black ducks (Anas rubripes). In order to include an estuarine component into the NCBP, herons and egrets are being evaluated. Eggs and chicks (five, ten, and 15 days of age) of snowy egrets (Egretta thula), and black-crowned night-herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) were collected in Naragansett Bay, RI; the Houston Ship Channel (HSC), TX; and San Francisco Bay, CA. Great egret (Casmerodius albus) eggs and chicks also were collected at the Texas colony. Eggs and chicks were analyzed for organochlorines; trace element and petroleum hydrocarbon analyses are pending. DDE and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were detected in all eggs and chicks, and they accumulated as the chicks grew. At each location, black-crowned nightheron chicks accumulated both DDE and PCBs more rapidly than snowy egrets or great egrets. PCBs accumulated more rapidly in night-heron chicks in Rhode Island than California; however, PCB accumulation for snowy egret chicks did not differ among locations. Contaminant accumulation rates in heron and egret chicks could be used as a new wetland component of the NCBP.
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Organochlorines accumulate in heron and egret chicks sampled in the Houston Ship Channel