Eggs were collected from the Grasslands of western Merced County, California, during 1986 and 1987, and at the Mendota Wildlife Area in Fresno County in 1987, as part of a reproductive study of nesting ducks and shorebirds. The eggs were analyzed to evaluate the effects of contaminants in agricultural drainwater on avian reproduction. Agricultural drainwater was the major source of water for irrigation and fall flooding in the Grasslands until the fall of 1985 when drainwater was mostly replaced by uncontaminated water. Drainwater had not been used at Mendota. Concentrations of arsenic and boron in eggs from all sites were lower than those known to harm avian reproduction. However, mean concentrations of selenium, a trace element known to impair avian reproduction at high dietary levels, were higher in eggs from the Grasslands than in eggs from the uncontaminated site. Although some selenium concentrations were as high as those found to have caused death or deformities at other sites, reproductive impairment was not observed in any ducks or shorebirds nesting in the Grasslands in 1986 or 1987.
Additional publication details
Contaminants in eggs of aquatic birds from the grasslands of central California
Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology