Biomonitoring and assessment of environmental contaminants in fish-eating birds of the upper Niagara River: A contribution to the Niagara River Environmental Contaminants Study

Metadata Updated: October 10, 2019

The Niagara River Environmental Contaminants Study is an ongoing effort by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) emphasizing the use of biological indicators to assess the impacts of environmental contaminants on fish and wildlife resources. Reported here are the results of the wildlife bioindicator portion of the study. The goals of the study were to determine the nature and extent of environmental contaminant burdens in the Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) population of the upper Niagara River area, and to evaluate the potential for negative impacts to that population. Reproductive parameters and contaminant burdens of the upper Niagara River area Common Tern populations are compared to the Atlantic coast and lower Great Lakes populations. Between 1986 and 1988, 62 Common Tern eggs, nine Herring Gull eggs and 17 forage fish samples from the upper Niagara River area were collected and analyzed for organic and elemental residues. The results indicate that organochlorine, heavy metal, and polyaromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbon contamination in upper Niagara River Common Terns is low and does not appear to impair reproduction. A comparison of the P,P'-DDE:PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) ratios for Common Tern and Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) eggs showed them to be nearly the same. Those for Common Tern eggs and forage fish were similar and showed a parallel decline between 1986 and 1988. These comparisons suggest that the concentration of contaminants found in Common Tern eggs reflected local levels rather than contaminant levels on their wintering grounds. Hence, Common Terns were good indicators of upper Niagara River contaminants. Despite the low levels of contaminants found in the Common Tern eggs and forage fish sampled, the terns experienced poor hatching and fledging success. Predation and poor habitat quality may be the primary factors affecting the breeding success of terns in the upper Niagara River population. However, the high incidence of egg and chick predation and the indirect effects of predation at the tern colonies studied may have masked any observable linkage between poor reproductive performance of Common Terns with local contaminant burdens. Other factors, such as behavioral abnormalities, embryotoxicity, and embryonic mortality that are known to be pollution-induced, should not be ruled out as having contributed to the poor reproductive success of the Common Terns. In particular, a study should be initiated to investigate parental nest attentiveness, prehatching mortality, and eggshell structure of the Common Terns nesting in the upper Niagara River area to further address the concern over the decline in the population.

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Public: This dataset is intended for public access and use. License: No license information was provided. If this work was prepared by an officer or employee of the United States government as part of that person's official duties it is considered a U.S. Government Work.

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Metadata Created Date April 30, 2019
Metadata Updated Date October 10, 2019

Metadata Source

Harvested from DOI CKAN Harvest Source

Additional Metadata

Resource Type Dataset
Metadata Created Date April 30, 2019
Metadata Updated Date October 10, 2019
Publisher Fish and Wildlife Service
Unique Identifier FWS_ServCat_23011
Brent Frakes
Maintainer Email
Public Access Level public
Bureau Code 010:18
Metadata Context
Metadata Catalog ID C:\Program Files (x86)\FWS\DataStore\Application\OpenData\FWS_ServCat_v1_1.json
Schema Version
Catalog Describedby
Data Quality true
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Harvest Source Id 34ce571b-cb98-4e0b-979f-30f9ecc452c5
Harvest Source Title DOI CKAN Harvest Source
Data First Published 1991-01-01
Homepage URL
Data Last Modified 1991-01-01
Program Code 010:094, 010:028
Related Documents ""
Source Datajson Identifier true
Source Hash 806359c36b8ce64ae8cf62d3ab6ef853cda8d21f
Source Schema Version 1.1
Category "Unpublished Report"

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