Our objectives were to collect information on contaminant levels and productivity of wading birds at the Drum Island heronry in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, before diversion of the Cooper River took place in 1985. The diversion was expected to reduce water flow by ~80% into the Harbor, thereby concentrating industrial effluents near the heronry with potentially harmful effects. Hatching success of white ibises (Eudocimus albus) in 1984 averaged 66% and 1.0 chick per nest survived to three weeks post-hatch. Fresh eggs collected from a sample of nests contained only background levels of DDT, DDE, and dieldrin; no PCBs, diphenyl ethers, or styrenes were detected. Pesticide residues in eggs were not correlated (P >0.05) with productivity in corresponding nests. Heavy metals and selenium in tissues of wading bird chicks were also representative of background levels. Follow-up studies after the diversion of the Cooper River were not feasible because the heronry was abandoned beginning in 1985. However, our baseline results will be useful in determining potential contaminant effects due to diversion of the Cooper River should wading birds return to Drum Island in the future.
Additional publication details
Environmental contaminants and productivity in an extinct heronry at Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, U.S.A., 1984