Further assessment of environmental contaminants in avian prey of the peregrine falcon in Big Bend National Park, Texas
Additional Document Info
A small resident population of peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus anatum) in the Big Bend region of Texas has suffered reproductive failures since 1990. To continue our assessment of the effects of environmental contaminants on the peregrine falcon, we collected representative avian prey species during 2001 at Mariscal Canyon, Big Bend National Park. The avian carcasses were analyzed for inorganic and organochlorine contaminants. Concentrations of Se and Hg were present at high levels (up to 11 and 2.2 g/g dry weight, respectively) in some avian prey and could be implicated in reproductive failures of the peregrine falcon in Big Bend National Park. All other inorganic elements were below concentrations known to affect reproduction or to be associated with other deleterious effects in birds. Of all the organochlorines analyzed, only DDE and total PCBs were present above detection limits in all species, although at low concentrations. Our study provides further support to the hypothesis that contaminants in potential avian prey of the peregrine falcon in the Big Bend region are implicated in the productivity failures observed in this species since 1990.