DDE and PCB's were detected in every egg from the four colonies. Dieldrin, mirex and trans-nonachlor were detected in more than 45% of the eggs. Seven other organochlorine contaminants were detected in less than 25% of the eggs. Eggs from the Lake Ontario colony were generally the most heavily contaminated. Comparisons of DDE and PCB data with earlier studies of Common Terns indicated that contaminant levels in eggs from the four sampled colonies, or nearby sites, have decreased by up to 80-% from 1969-73 to 1981. Interspecies comparisons showed that Common Tern eggs have lower organochlorine residue levels than eggs of Caspian Terns or Herring Gulls. Eggshell thickness, log-PCB's, and log-DDE were not significantly intercorrelated. It is argued that elevated contaminant levels in the early 1970s were at least partially responsible for the decline of the Great Lakes Common Tern population over the past decade. Stabilization of population numbers during the early 1980s suggests that pollution levels have since been reduced to a point where they are no longer a driving factor in the population dynamics of this species on the Great Lakes.
Additional publication details
Organochlorine contaminants in eggs of common terns from the Canadian Great Lakes, 1981