Contaminant profiles of two species of shorebirds foraging together at two neighboring sites in south San Francisco Bay, California

Environmental Monitoring and Assessment
By: , and 



The San Francisco Bay estuary isused by over one million shorebirds during springmigration and is home to several hundred thousandduring the winter. Most shorebird use occurs in thesouthern reach of the estuary (South Bay). Thereduced water circulation and discharge fromindustrial sources in the South Bay are responsiblefor the highest levels of some trace elements in theestuary. Wintering shorebirds have been found to havestrong site fidelity to areas as small as a fewkilometers in the South Bay, which may increase theirexposure to contaminants near local point sources. Inaddition, different shorebird species foraging at thesame site have been shown to have differentcontaminant burdens. Thus, our objectives were totest whether contaminant burdens differed by species,or whether contaminant burdens differed in shorebirdscollected at adjacent sites. We examined thecontaminant profiles of two species of shorebirds,long-billed dowitchers (Limnodromus scolopaceus)and western sandpipers (Calidris mauri) thatforage together at two sites, Hayward and Newark,separated by 8 km in the South Bay. We usedmultivariate analysis of variance tests to compare thecomposition of 14 elemental analytes in their livertissues and estimated their molar ratios of Hg and Se. Composite samples were used for contaminant analysesbecause of the small body size of the shorebirds. Seven elemental analytes (Ag, Ba, Be, Cr, Ni, Pb, V)were below detection limits in a majority of thesamples so statistical analyses were precluded. Inthe measurable analytes (As, Cd, Cu, Hg, Mn, Se, Zn),we found no significant intra-site differences ofcontaminant profiles for the two species. We pooledthe samples to examine inter-site differences andfound significant differences in contaminant profilesbetween shorebirds at the neighboring sites (P = 0.03). Shorebirds at Newark had higher (P < 0.05) concentrations of As, Cd, and Se than those at Hayward. Dowitchers at Newark had concentrations of Hg and Se which were highly correlated (P < 0.003) in a mean molar ratio of 1:19, similar tothat reported in other birds. In the larger dowitcherspecies, we also examined exposure to 20organochlorine compounds. Organic analyses showedthat the dowitchers had been exposed to DDE, PCBs,dieldrin and trans-nonachlor, but with no significantdifferences in concentrations between Hayward andNewark (P > 0.05).

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Contaminant profiles of two species of shorebirds foraging together at two neighboring sites in south San Francisco Bay, California
Series title Environmental Monitoring and Assessment
DOI 10.1023/A:1017526130205
Volume 71
Issue 2
Year Published 2001
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 15 p.
First page 107
Last page 121
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