Beginning the day after hatching, American kestrel (Falco sparverius) nestlings were orally dosed for 10 consecutive days with 5 microliters/g of corn oil (controls) or one of the diphenyl ether herbicides (nitrofen, bifenox, or oxyfluorfen) at concentrations of 10, 50, 250, or 500 mg/kg in corn oil. At 500 mg/kg, nitrofen resulted in complete nestling mortality, bifenox in high (66%) mortality, and oxyfluorfen in no mortality. Nitrofen at 250 mg/kg reduced nestling growth as reflected by decreased body weight, crownrump length, and bone lengths including humerus, radiusulna, femur, and tibiotarsus. Bifenox at 250 mg/kg had less effect on growth than nitrofen, but crownrump, humerus, radiusulna, and femur were significantly shorter than controls. Liver weight as a percent of body weight increased with 50 and 250 mg/kg nitrofen. Other manifestations of impending hepatotoxicity following nitrofen ingestion included increased hepatic GSH peroxidase activity in all nitrofentreated groups, and increased plasma enzyme activities for ALT, AST, and LDHL in the 250mg/kg group. Bifenox ingestion resulted in increased hepatic GSH peroxidase activity in the 50and 250mg/kg groups. Nitrofen exposure also resulted in an increase in total plasma thyroxine (T4) concentration. These findings suggest that altricial nestlings are more sensitive to diphenyl ether herbicides than young or adult birds of precocial species.
Additional publication details
Developmental toxicity of diphenyl ether herbicides in nestling American kestrels