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Trends and effects of organochlorine compounds in sparrowhawk accipiter nisus eggs


, : Trends and effects of organochlorine compounds in sparrowhawk accipiter nisus eggs. Journal of Applied Ecology 23(2): 461-478

(1) Sparrowhawk eggs for analysis of organochlorine (DDE, HEOD and PCB) levels were obtained from seventeen areas in Britain during 1971-80, together with details of breeding success. In different areas, mean eggshell index (reflecting shell thickness) was reduced by 11-20% on the pre-1947 national mean. (2) A negative relationship between eggshell index and log DDE level was found, confirming previous studies. In this relationship no significant variation in slopes between areas was detected, but highly significant differences between intercepts. By implication, shell index varied between areas, irrespective of DDE levels. (3) Significant relationships were also found between shell index and HEOD or PCB levels, but once the effect of DDE was allowed for in a multiple regression, neither HEOD or PCB made a significant contribution. The levels of all three compounds were correlated wtih one another, and with shell index. (4) In the area from which most eggs were obtained (Annandale), the relationship of shell index to DDE showed no temporal trend during the years 1971-80. In order words, no evidence was found for the development of biochemical resistance to DDE. (5) During the years 1971-80, the levels of HEOD in eggs declined, whereas levels of DDE and PCB declined to the mid-70s, and then increased. These trends were apparent in the pooled data for all areas, and in some areas individually, though there were also differences in trends between certain areas. (6) The number of young produced at individual nests decreased with decline in shell index, and with increase in HEOD and PCB contents. However, when the relationship between brood size and shell index was allowed for in a multiple regression, neither HEOD nor PCB made a significant contribution. (7) No difference in the relationship between brood size and shell index was found between areas. However, adjusting the brood size in all areas to a common shell index revealed significant variations in brood size between areas and between years. (8) Production of young was reduced by an estimated 14-35% in different areas, associated with reduction in shell indices.

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