The osprey (Pandion haliaetus) population nesting along the main stem Willamette River and lower Santiam River was first studied to evaluate contaminants and reproductive rates in 1993 when 78 occupied nests were present. By 2001, the population increased to 234 occupied nests, a 13.7% annual rate of population increase. A sample egg was collected from each of a series of nests along the Upper River (river mile 55-187) in 1993, 2001 and 2006 to evaluate trends of persistent contaminants (organochlorine [OC] pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls [PCBs], polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins [PCDDs], and polychlorinated dibenzofurans [PCDFs]). Nearly all OC pesticide residues decreased significantly, e.g., p, p?-DDE (DDE) from 2,350 to 1,353 to 210 ??g/kg wet weight (ww). PCBs followed a similar pattern over time, e.g., ???PCBs 688 to 245 to 182 ??g/kg ww, while PCDDs and PCDFs showed a more precipitous decline (often 85-95%) between 1993 and 2001, with no egg analyses warranted in 2006. During 2001-2002, sample osprey eggs were also collected from nests at three Headwater Reservoirs and two lower reaches (Newberg Pool and Tidal Portland) of the Willamette River, as well as the lower portion of the Santiam River to evaluate spatial residue patterns. Significant differences were seldom detected among the different sampling areas for OC pesticides (probably due to small sample sizes), although higher concentrations were often seen in the lower reaches, e.g., DDE 901 ??g/kg ww (Headwater Reservoirs), 1,353 (Upper River), 1,384 (Newberg Pool) and 2,676 (Tidal Portland). PCB congener concentrations in eggs were usually higher in the Tidal Portland reach than at other locations and often significantly higher than at the Headwater Reservoirs or Upper River. Mercury (first analyzed in eggs in 2001), PCDDs and PCDFs were extremely low in 2001/2002 with no significant spatial patterns. Whole fish composite samples of largescale sucker (Catastomus macrocheilus) and northern pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus oregonensis), which account for about 90% of the biomass in the diet of this osprey population, were also collected from the Willamette River in 1993 and 2001 and analyzed for the same contaminants as osprey eggs. Contaminant residues in fish from the Upper River decreased between 1993 and 2001, paralleling findings for osprey eggs. Likewise, spatial patterns for fish residues paralleled findings for osprey eggs from the different reaches in 2001. A second empirical estimate of biomagnification factors (BMFs) from fish to osprey eggs for OC pesticides, PCBs, PCDDs and PCDFs (ww and lipid weight [lw] basis) was calculated based on residue data collected in 2001. The two independent BMF estimates (1993 and 2001) for each contaminant from the Upper River provide a measure of consistency, e.g., DDE (ww) 87 and 79, (lw) 103 and 112; ???PCBs (ww) 11 and 8.4, (lw) 13 and 12. Mercury did not biomagnify from fish to osprey eggs (BMF = 0.60). Legacy contaminants investigated had limited (perhaps only DDE), if any, effects on reproductive success of the increasing osprey population nesting along the Willamette River by 2001. ?? 2008 U.S. Government.
Additional publication details
PCDDs, PCDFs, PCBs, OC pesticides and mercury in fish and osprey eggs from Willamette River, Oregon (1993, 2001 and 2006) with calculated biomagnification factors