For 2 consecutive years mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) hens were fed a control diet or a diet that contained 0.5 or 3 ppm mercury as methylmercury (about 0.1 and 0.6 ppm mercury on the basis of a natural succulent diet). During the fifth egg-collection period, levels of mercury in eggs of hens fed 0.5 and 3 ppm mercury averaged 0.79 and 5.46 ppm, respectively; on a dry-weight basis, the concentration of mercury in eggs was 4.88 times as great as that in the feed of ducks fed 0.5 ppm mercury and 5.64 times as great for ducks fed 3 ppm mercury. There were no significant differences in egg production or hatching success among controls and groups fed mercury. Ducklings from hens fed 3 ppm mercury were less likely to survive to 1 week of age than were controls or ducklings from parents fed 0.5 ppm mercury. There were no significant differences in approach behavior among the offspring of controls and groups fed mercury. In avoidance behavior, ducklings whose parents were fed 3 ppm mercury were hyper-responsive compared with controls and ducklings from parents fed 0.5 ppm mercury.
Additional publication details
Methylmercury: Second-year feeding effects on mallard reproduction and duckling behavior