Despite serious water-quality problems and pollutant loading and retention, Delaware River and Bay (USA) provide important wildlife habitat. In 2002, we conducted a comprehensive evaluation of contaminant exposure and reproduction of ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) breeding in Delaware River and Bay. Sample eggs were collected from 39 nests and analyzed for organochlorine pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and mercury; a subset of 15 eggs was analyzed for perfluorinated compounds and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). The fate of each nest was monitored weekly. Concentrations of 10 organochlorine pesticides or metabolites, total PCBs, and several toxic PCB congeners were greater (p < 0.05) in eggs collected between the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal (C and D Canal) and Trenton (Delaware River and northern Bay) compared to other sites. Concentrations of p,p'-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (p,p'-DDE; 0.785-3.84 mug/g wet wt) and total PCBs (5.50-14.5 mug/g wet wt) in eggs collected between the C and D Canal and Trenton were similar to levels recently found in the Chesapeake Bay. In all study segments, at least one young fledged from 66 to 75% of nests. Productivity for Delaware Inland Bays (reference area) and southern Delaware Bay was 1.17 and 1.42 fledglings/active nest, respectively; north of the C and D Canal, productivity was 1.00 fledgling/active nest, which is marginally adequate to maintain the population. Using these data, a logistic regression model found that contaminant concentrations (p,p'-DDE, heptachlor epoxide, chlordane and metabolites, and total PCBs) were predictive of hatching success. Several perfluorinated compounds and PBDEs were detected in eggs at concentrations approaching 1 mug/g wet weight. These findings provide evidence that contaminants continue to be a significant stressor on osprey productivity in the northern Delaware River and Bay.
Additional publication details
Effects of contaminant exposure on reproductive success of ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) nesting in Delaware River and Bay, USA