Evaluation of the effects of environmental contaminants on wildlife is geared to interpreting events in the field, especially population effects, and both field and laboratory studies are planned for this purpose; procedures are adapted to specific problems and therefore do not include strict protocols or routine testing. Field evaluations include measurements of cholinesterase inhibition in brain or blood, search for dead or disabled animals, study of nesting success of birds, and general ecological observations. Residue analyses are used in evaluating organochlorine chemicals; samples may include whole bodies for determining level of exposure, brains for mortality diagnosis, whole blood for certain special studies, and eggs to help in evaluation of possible reproductive effects. Bird counts, singing-male census counts, small mamrnal trapping, and cage-in-field tests have proven to be ineffective or misleading and are not considered suitable for field evaluations under most circumstances. Usefulness of simulated field trials is limited to very special situations. Experimental studies that help predict and interpret field effects include determinations of lethal diagnostic levels, comparative lethal dietary toxicity tests, tests of secondary poisoning measurement of residue loss rates, measurement of blood enzymes, tests of behavioral effects, and studies of reproductive effects.
Additional publication details
Environmental contaminant studies by the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center