PH25 Wildlife Ecotoxicology II
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(PH279) Relationship between organochlorine contaminants and gastrointestinal parasites in prefledgling herring gulls (Larus argentatus) from the Great Lakes.

Rutkiewicz, J1, Grasman, K1, Fox, G2, 1 Wright State University, Dayton, OH, USA2 Canadian Wildlife Service, Ottowa, Canada

ABSTRACT- Persistent organochlorine contaminants are associated with altered immune function in wild herring gulls (Larus argentatus) and Caspian terns (Sterna caspia) in the Great Lakes and with increased gastrointestinal nematodes in glaucous gulls (L. hyperboreus) in the Norwegian arctic. The objective of this study was to determine whether gastrointestinal parasite loads are associated with contamination in prefledgling herring gulls from Great Lakes sites with varying levels of contamination. Four week old herring gulls were collected from five sites: Chantry Island (eastern Lake Huron), a combined disposal facility in Saginaw Bay (southwestern Lake Huron), West Sister Island (Lake Erie), Scotch Bonnet Island (eastern Lake Ontario) and Detroit Edison power plant (western Lake Erie). Gastrointestinal tracts were removed and stored in 70% ethanol until dissection. Parasites were counted and identified using keys and published descriptions. Total parasite and nematode counts differed significantly among sites. Scotch Bonnet had 4-14 times more parasites than all other sites. Saginaw Bay, a site with high PCBs, had nonsignificantly fewer parasites than Chantry Island, a reference site. Chantry had 32-86% fewer parasites than all other sites. Parasites were significantly higher at West Sister Island, another high PCB site. Total parasite numbers in individual birds were correlated positively with liver concentrations of HCB, oxychlordane, DDE, and mirex (p<0.023, 0.58<r<0.66). Nematode numbers correlated positively with HCB, oxychlordane, and mirex (p<0.03, 0.5<r<0.78). However, Scotch Bonnet, which had the highest levels of these contaminants and the highest parasite numbers, greatly influenced the correlations. This study suggested associations between certain organochlorines and increased numbers of gastrointestinal parasites in young herring gulls from the Great Lakes, consistent with previous findings in Norwegian gulls.

Key words: parasite, immunotoxicology, herring gull, Great Lakes

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