Organochlorine pollutants and stable isotopes in resident and migrant passerine birds from northwest Michoacn, Mexico. Academic Article uri icon


  • Although concentrations of organochlorine compounds (OCs) in birds from most of the United States and Canada have decreased over the last 30 years, there is still concern that migrant birds might be exposed to elevated concentrations of OCs during migration in Latin America. The Lerma-Chapala Basin in west-central Mexico is an important migration corridor and wintering area for many species. The objectives of this study were to assess if resident and migrant birds wintering in western Michoacn, Mexico accumulated elevated concentrations of OCs during fall and spring and to determine if the stable isotopes delta(15)N, delta(13)C, and deltaD could be used to predict burdens and origins of DDE accumulation. Resident and migrant passerine insectivorous birds were collected during fall and spring (2001-2002) in northwest Michoacn, near Chapala Lake, Mexico. The carcasses were analyzed for OCs and tail feathers were analyzed for stable isotopes delta(15)N, delta(13)C, and deltaD. The OCs detected in more than 50% of the samples were: oxychlordane (79%), p,p'-DDE (100%), p,p'-DDT (57%), and total PCBs (100%). p,p'-DDE was the OC detected at the highest concentrations, whereas residues of other OCs were near or below detection limits. Overall, there were no significant differences in concentrations of OCs between seasons or between resident and migrant birds. Concentrations of DDE and oxychlordane were somewhat higher in migrant and resident birds during spring than in fall; however, concentrations were significantly different only for oxychlordane. Two resident birds collected in fall and spring had DDE residues >10 microg/g wet weight in carcass. There were no significant differences in delta(13)C and delta(15)N values among species, between seasons, or between migrant and resident birds. However, deltaD values were clearly different between species and helped differentiate migrant from resident birds. deltaD values also were negatively and significantly correlated with DDE concentrations in carcass. Birds with more depleted deltaD values in feathers tended to have higher DDE concentrations than those with less depleted deltaD values, suggesting a potential latitudinal accumulation of DDE. Overall, our results suggest that during fall and spring, there is not a significant buildup of persistent OCs in migrant and resident passerine insectivorous birds in northwest Michoacn, Mexico.

published proceedings

  • Arch Environ Contam Toxicol

author list (cited authors)

  • Mora, M. A.

citation count

  • 8

complete list of authors

  • Mora, Miguel A

publication date

  • January 2008