Spectacled eider (Somateria fischeri) populations on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (Y-K Delta), Alaska, declined rapidly through the 1980s, and low adult female survival was suggested as the likely cause of the decline. We used mark-resighting techniques to study annual survival rates of adult female spectacled eiders at 2 sites on the Y-K Delta during 1993-96. Our data suggest survival rates may differ among sites. However, a model fit to a subset of data on females for which we knew lead levels in blood suggests lead exposure influences survival. Adult females exposed to lead prior to hatching their eggs survived at a much lower rate (0.44 ?? 0.10) each year than females not exposed to lead before hatch (0.78 ?? 0.05). We suggest most mortality from lead exposure occurs over winter, and the related reduction in adult survival may be impeding recovery of local populations. We encourage managers to curtail input of lead shot into the environment.
Additional publication details
Effect of lead poisoning on spectacled elder survival rates