Stormwater wetlands are created to retain water from storms and snow melt to reduce sediment, nutrient, and contaminant pollution of natural waterways in metropolitan areas. However, they are often a source of attractive habitat to wetland-associated wildlife. In this study of 12 stormwater wetlands and a larger, older reference site, elevated concentrations of zinc and copper were found in sediments and carcasses of 8-day-old red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) nestlings inhabiting stormwater sites. Although nesting success in the stormwater wetlands was comparable to national averages, sediment zinc concentrations correlated with clutch size, hatching success, fledgling success, and Mayfield nest success, suggesting that the nestlings may have been stressed and impaired by elevated zinc. This stress may have been direct on the nestlings or indirect through effects on the availability of food organisms.
Additional publication details
Contaminant exposure and effects in Red-Winged Blackbirds inhabiting stormwater retention ponds