Accumulation of PCB congeners in nestling tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) on the Hudson River, New York

Environmental Science & Technology
By: , and 



Tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) were used as a sentinel species to monitor the contamination and bioavailability of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the Hudson River watershed. Several tree swallow nest box colonies around and downstream from Hudson Falls, NY, were studied. Tree swallow eggs, adults, and 5-, 10-, and 15-day-old nestlings were collected and analyzed for 103 PCB congeners. Emergent insects collected by net (primarily Odonata) or as a food bolus (primarily Diptera) taken from the mouths of adult tree swallows returning to the nest were analyzed in the same manner. Total PCB concentrations (wet weight) in eggs from two contaminated sites ranged from 9000 to 25 000 ng/g and accumulated to 32 000 and 96 000 ng/g in 15-day-old nestling at two contaminated sites. The congener patterns of PCBs in eggs, nestlings, and adults were compared to those found in emergent insects (Odonata and Diptera) using principal components analysis. The PCB patterns of the biota differed from that of Aroclor technical mixtures. PCB patterns in adult tree swallows were similar to those in eggs, while the patterns in dietary insects were similar to nestling tree swallows. Uptake rate constants were determined for tree swallow nestlings and compared between the two contaminated sites. The estimated PCB congener uptake rate constants were 0.008-0.02 d-1 based on uptake in nestlings until day 15 post-hatch. The rate constants were comparable between the two study areas and may be used to predict nestling contamination at other locations. Our studies confirm the utility of nestling tree swallows to evaluate localized PCB contamination.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Accumulation of PCB congeners in nestling tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) on the Hudson River, New York
Series title Environmental Science & Technology
DOI 10.1021/es049785p
Volume 38
Issue 23
Year Published 2004
Language English
Publisher ACS Publications
Contributing office(s) Columbia Environmental Research Center
Description 7 p.
First page 6240
Last page 6246
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