Tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) and house wren (Troglodytes aedon) eggs and chicks were collected near a refinery site on the North Platte River, Casper, Wyoming, USA and at a reference site 10 km upstream. Total polycylic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) concentrations in swallow and wren chicks were higher at the refinery site than at the reference site. Polycylic aromatic hydrocarbon concentrations in sediment and chick dietary samples were consistent with these findings. The general lack of methylated PAHs in sediment, diet, and bird carcasses suggested that the PAHs were derived from combustion and not from petroleum. The predominance of odd numbered aliphatic hydrocarbons and the low ratios (≤ 0.25) of pristane: n-C17 and phytane: n-C18 in chick and diet samples also suggested that swallow and wren chicks were not being chronically exposed to petroleum. Mean ethoxyresorufin-O-dealkylase and benzyloxyresorufin-O-dealkylase activities in tree swallow livers averaged nine times higher at the refinery site than at the reference site and were probably induced by exposure to PAHs. Trace element concentrations in eggs and livers of swallows and wrens were similar or greater at the reference site than at the refinery site. Selenium, strontium, and boron concentrations were elevated in eggs and livers of swallows and wrens at both the refinery and reference sites.
Additional publication details
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, aliphatic hydrocarbons, trace elements and monooxygenase activity in birds nesting on the North Platte River, Casper, Wyoming, USA