Compared to unmated mallard ducks fed an uncontaminated diet, unmated birds given food contaminated with 3 ml South Louisiana crude oil per 100 g dry weight showed an 84% decline in the daily rate of oviposition, a 33% decrease in egg-shell thickness and at autopsy more than 82% of the ovarian mass consisted of atretic follicles. Similar studies on groups of mated females showed that although the addition of 1 ml South Louisiana crude oil/100 g dry food had no effect on the daily rate of oviposition, none of the eggs had been fertilized while a concentration of 3 ml South Louisiana crude oil/100 g dry food suppressed the daily rate of oviposition significantly. Less than 25% of these eggs had been fertilized and only 40% of the fertilized eggs yielded viable ducklings. In both of these groups of mated birds, normal patterns of oviposition, fertilization and hatchability were restored after removal of petroleum from the diet. The addition of 1 ml Kuwait crude oil/100 g dry food had no effect on the rate of oviposition, the incidence of fertility or the hatchability of the fertilized eggs. The addition of 3 ml oil/100 g dry food completely abolished oviposition, but a normal rate of oviposition was restored when the concentration of the crude oil was reduced from 3 to 1 ml/100 g dry food. However, the incidence of fertilization remained low and none of the fertilized eggs gave rise to viable ducklings. Kuwait crude oil had no effect on shell thickness.
Additional publication details
The effects of ingested petroleum on oviposition and some aspects of reproduction in experimental colonies of mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos)