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(583) European starling as an avian model and monitor for management decisions .
Halbrook, Richard*,1, Arenal, Christine2, Gray, Shelley3, 1 Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL, USA2 CH2M HILL, INC, Sacramento, CA, USA3 USDA-APHIS-Wildlife Services, Seymour Johnson AFB, NC, USA
ABSTRACT- Our laboratory used the starling to monitor accumulation and affects of PCBs in avian species at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge prior to and following remediation. Nest boxes were placed at contaminated and reference sites and starling reproduction and adult behavior were monitored. Fifteen-day-old chicks were collected for PCB analysis along with eggs that did not hatch and chicks that did not survive. Liver ethoxyresorufin 0-deethylase activity (EROD) also was measured in 15-day-old chicks as a biomarker of contaminant exposure. Prior to remediation, mean Aroclor 1254 concentrations in carcasses of 15-day-old starling chicks, eggs that did not hatch, and chicks that did not survive were significantly greater at PCB sites (range 5.0 - 52.5 mg/kg) compared to concentrations in chicks carcasses and eggs collected from reference sites (range 0.03 - 0.6 mg/kg). Following remediation, mean chick carcass concentrations from remediated sites (2.48 mg/kg) continued to be significantly greater than concentrations measured in chicks collected from reference sites (0.35 mg/kg). Toxic equivalent quotients (TEQs) were used to evaluate potential toxicity of selected individual PCB congeners and indicated an order of magnitude decrease in toxicity at the PCB sites following remediation. A significant difference in adult provisioning behavior, liver EROD activity, and fledging success was observed between PCB and reference sites prior to remediation but not after remediation. Results indicate that remedial action successfully reduced PCB concentrations in starling chicks collected from PCB sites on the refuge; however, concentrations continued to be significantly greater than those measured in chicks collected from reference sites. The lack of biologically significant differences in adult behavior and fecundity among starlings nesting at remediated and reference sites suggest that potential adverse effects to avian species are no longer of concern. This study demonstrates the usefulness of the starling as an avian model for evaluating potential effects of contaminants on avian species and supports the value of biological monitoring as a mechanism for evaluating environmental management decisions.
Key words: Starlings, Remediation, Management, Biomonitoring
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