In this study, oil was applied to naturally incubated great black-backed gull (Larus marinus) and herring gull (L. argentatus) eggs, and its effects on reproductive success were assessed. Embryo survival was inversely proportional to the quantity of petroleum applied to eggshell surfaces. Dose responses, however, were dependent on embryonic age at the time of treatment. Eggs of either species, treated with 10-20 mu l of No. 2 fuel oil 4-8 days after laying, experienced significant reductions in hatching success. Embryos oiled past the midpoint of the 28-day incubation period were insensitive to as much as 100 mu l of petroleum. Fuel oil weathered outdoors for several weeks was as toxic as fresh oil to larid embryos. Only under severe conditions (e.g., large doses of petroleum contaminating young embryos) could egg oiling have a significant impact upon populations of the herring gull and species with similar life-history characteristics.
Additional publication details
Effects of egg oiling on larid productivity and population dynamics