Known reproductive problems, including congenital malformations and poor hatching success, exist for the state endangered Forster's tern (Sterna forsteri) in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Twenty Forster's tern eggs were collected from separate nests at (i) a natural colony with documented reproductive problems, situated at Green Bay, Lake Michigan, and (ii) an inland colony at Lake Poygan (control) where reproduction was documented as normal. Eggs from the two locations were placed in the same laboratory incubator and candled throughout incubation. Hatching success of Green Bay eggs was 52% of that for controls. Several early embryonic deaths occurred, but most mortality occurred close to the time of hatching. Liver microsomal aryl hydrocarbon hydroxylase activity was elevated approximately threefold in Green Bay hatchlings compared to controls. Green Bay terns that hatched weighed less than controls, had an increased liver to body weight ratio, and had a shorter femur length. Two Green Bay embryos that failed to hatch had anomalies, one with a crossed beak and one with poor ossification of the foot. One Green Bay hatchling had an abnormally ossified ilium. These effects were observed in eggs where there were measureable levels of aryl hydrocarbon hydroxylase inducers including polychlorinated biphenyls and polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins.
Additional publication details
Embryotoxicity, teratogenicity and aryl hydrocarbon hydroxylase activity in Forster's terns on Green Bay, Lake Michigan