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Deformities, PCBs, and TCDD-equivalents in double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) and Caspian Terns (Hydroprogne caspia) of the upper Great Lakes 19861991: testing a cause-effect hypothesis


Ludwig, JP and Kurita-Matsuba, H and Auman, HJ and Ludwig, ME and Summer, CL and Giesy, JP and Tillitt, DE and Jones, PD, Deformities, PCBs, and TCDD-equivalents in double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) and Caspian Terns (Hydroprogne caspia) of the upper Great Lakes 1986-1991: testing a cause-effect hypothesis, Journal of Great Lakes Research, 22, (2) pp. 172-197. ISSN 0380-1330 (1996) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 1996 International Association for Great Lakes Research

DOI: doi:10.1016/S0380-1330(96)70948-6


Deformities have been reported in many species of colonial waterbirds from several localities on the Laurentian Great Lakes. The hypothesis that deformities were caused by either polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) or contaminants measured as 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin equivalents (TCDD-EQs) is tested in this review of available data on concentrations of contaminants in eggs and observed deformities in embryos and chicks of double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) and Caspian terns (Hydroprogne caspia) between 1986 and 1991. Hatched chicks, live and dead eggs retrieved from 37 colonies in the upper Great Lakes were assessed for gross anatomical deformities. Rates of embryo death from seven regions of the upper Great Lakes were measured annually between 19861991. Half the embryos found dead in eggs were deformed. Nineteen types of abnormalities or deformities were observed. Subcutaneous edema in cormorants and gastroschisis in terns were the most common abnormalities in live or dead eggs. One of ten crossed-billed cormorant embryos survived to hatch. No bill-deformed terns hatched, although tern embryos had a greater rate of crossed-bills than cormorants. The suite of deformities and abnormalities found was similar to that produced in chickens by exposure to planar polychlorinated biphenyl (pPCB) and dioxin congeners. Hatching and deformity rates were correlated with concentrations ofpPCBs and TCDD-EQs. Planar PCB congeners that contributed most of the TCDD-EQs were present at concentrations sufficient to cause the observed effects. TCDD-EQs measured by H4IIE rat hepatoma cell 7-ethoxyresorufin O-deethylase (EROD) bioassay were highly correlated with deformity rates observed in cormorant chicks, live and dead eggs, and egg death rates. Similar correlations of TCDD-EQs with deformity rates were found in hatched tern chicks, dead eggs, and egg death rates, but not in live eggs. TCDD-EQs were more highly correlated to deformity and embryo death rates than total PCBs. The weight of evidence and these data are sufficient to reject the null hypothesis that there is no causal relationship between the incidence of deformities in cormorants and terns and exposure to planar halogenated compounds measured as TCDD-EQs or total PCBs in the Great Lakes.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:terns, cormorants, Great Lakes, TCDD, PCBs, bird eggs, embryonic abnormalities
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Zoology
Research Field:Animal physiological ecology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Auman, HJ (Dr Heidi Auman)
ID Code:106140
Year Published:1996
Web of Science® Times Cited:59
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2016-02-01
Last Modified:2016-05-24

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