Persistent organic pollutants in eggs from south Texas Aplomado falcons
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A program to reintroduce the Northern Aplomado falcon (Falco femoralis septentrionalis) in south Texas and the southwestern United States was initiated in the late 1970s. Fledgling Aplomado falcons were first released in the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in 1993 and the first nesting pair in the area was recorded by 1995. During 2004-2017 we collected addled eggs from nesting pairs in the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge and Matagorda Island in south Texas, to determine if environmental contaminants in Aplomado falcon eggs had decreased over time and if eggshell thickness values were similar to those in the pre-DDT era. We analyzed organochlorine pesticides, PCBs, and PBDEs in 60 egg homogenates by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Eggshells were measured to determine thickness and to correlate with contaminant concentrations. Mean concentration in eggs were 244 ng/g ww for p,p'- DDE, 270 ng/g ww for PCBs and 10 ng/g ww for PBDEs. These values were lower than those reported in a previous study for eggs collected between 1999 and 2003, with a mean of 821 ng/g ww for p,p'-DDE and 1228 ng/g ww for total PCBs. Eggshell thickness ranged from 0.206 mm to 0.320 mm (n = 156). Overall, contaminant concentrations in eggs of Aplomado falcons were low, at levels not likely to impact the recovery of the species. Data from this and previous studies indicate that DDE has decreased significantly in eggs of Aplomado falcons over the last 25 years in south Texas. Breeding populations have been steady at over 30 breeding pairs in south Texas since 2011, although they decreased to 24 pairs in 2018 following Hurricane Harvey.
author list (cited authors)
Hidalgo, C. M., Mora, M. A., Sericano, J. L., Mutch, B. D., & Juergens, P. W.