Organochlorine pollutants and population status of least terns in South Carolina

The Wilson Bulletin
By:  and 



Least Tern nesting colonies on the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas in South Carolina were studied from 1971 through 1975. We located 10 colonies including 6 on the Refuge and 4 on nearby coastal islands. The number of nests in each colony ranged from several up to 220. Least Terns began reproductive activity in April, and the egg-laying period ranged from May to July. The earliest hatching record was 6 June. Reproductive success in most colonies seemed poor. Tidal flooding of eggs, predation of eggs and young, and disturbance by domestic animals and man were responsible for most failures. Residues of DDE, PCB's, and other organochlorine pollutants in the eggs were low and posed no identifiable threat to the Least Terns. DDE residues in eggs declined from 0.63 μg/g in 1972 to 0.33 μg/g in 1975. In contrast, PCB residue trends were erratic; mean residue values were 0.40 μg/g in 1972, 1.08 μg/g in 1974, and 0.62 μg/g in 1975. Eggshell thickness means for 1972, 1974, and 1975 were 2 to 7% lower than the pre-1947 mean; but the differences between means were not statistically significant. There is no evidence of a decline in Least Tern populations in South Carolina over the past 30 years such as observed in many other parts of the range of the species. A number of the current nesting islands seem secure from adverse environmental perturbations, although several colonies are on islands that are in danger of extensive development.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Organochlorine pollutants and population status of least terns in South Carolina
Series title The Wilson Bulletin
Volume 91
Issue 1
Year Published 1979
Language English
Publisher Wilson Ornithological Society
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 10 p.
First page 62
Last page 71
Country United States
State South Carolina
Other Geospatial Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge
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