Sediment ingestion has become a recognized exposure route for toxicants in waterfowl. The effects of lead-contaminated sediment from the Coeur d?Alene River Basin (CDARB) in Idaho were evaluated on mallard (Anas platyryhnchos) duckling behavior and growth over a five-week period using time-activity budgets. Day-old ducklings received either a clean sediment (24%) supplemented control diet, CDARB sediment (3,449 ug/g lead) supplemented diets at 12% or 24%, or a positive control diet (24% clean sediment with equivalent lead acetate to the 24% CDARB diet). Ten different behaviors were monitored for time spent, including resting, standing, moving, drinking, dabbling, feeding, pecking, preening, bathing and swimming. Contaminated sediment (24% CDARB ) and lead acetate significantly decreased the proportion of time spent swimming. There were also problems with balance and mobility in the 24% CDARB and the lead acetate groups. With a less optimal diet (mixture of two thirds corn and one third standard diet) containing 24% clean sediment, nutrient level alone affected six different behaviors including feeding, pecking, swimming, preening, standing, and dabbling. Nutrient level also significantly decreased the growth rate and delayed the initial time of molt. When the corn diet contained CDARB sediment, the proportion of time spent bathing in the 24% CDARB group significantly decreased with marginal effects on resting and feeding. There were also instances of imbalance with 24% CDARB and corn diet, and duckling weights were significantly lower than in corn diet controls. The decreased time spent swimming or bathing, coupled with problems of balance and mobility, decreased growth, histopathological lesions and altered brain biochemistry (reported elsewhere) illustrate a potential threat to the survival of ducklings in the wild that are exposed to lead-containing sediments within the CDARB or elsewhere.
Additional Publication Details
Effects of lead-contaminated sediment and nutrition on mallard duckling behavior and growth
Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A