Exposure of Spectacled Eiders and other diving ducks to lead in western Alaska

Canadian Journal of Zoology
By: , and 



Lead poisoning, resulting from ingestion of spent shot, has been identified as a cause of mortality in Spectacled Eiders (Somateria fischeri) on the Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska. We examined lead-exposure rates of adult and juvenile Spectacled Eiders and other diving ducks, using atomic absorption spectrophotometry of blood samples. Additionally, we X-rayed birds in the field to identify ingested shot. We detected shot in the gizzards of 11.6% of Spectacled Eiders X-rayed. During the period from arrival through incubation, 13.0% of adult females and 6.6% of adult males had elevated blood lead levels when captured. During the brood-rearing period, 35.8% of adult females and 12.2% of ducklings were exposed to lead when captured. There was an increase in the probability of exposure of adult females with date sampled. We predict that 50% of the successfully breeding hens were likely exposed to lead, and 25–37% of the Spectacled Eider breeding population was exposed to lead. The long-term effects of sublethal doses on Spectacled Eiders are unknown; however, exposure of nesting females and young birds to lead may result in reduced over-winter survival and (or) reduced fecundity.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Exposure of Spectacled Eiders and other diving ducks to lead in western Alaska
Series title Canadian Journal of Zoology
DOI 10.1139/z97-054
Volume 75
Issue 3
Year Published 1997
Language English
Publisher NRC Research Press
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center
Description 5 p.
First page 439
Last page 443
Country United States
State Alaska
Other Geospatial Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta
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