This study was conducted to determine the influence of residues of organochlorine pollutants on reproductive success in the brown pelican. A sample egg was taken from each of 93 marked nests in the nesting colony in South Carolina. Periodic visits were made to determine the fate of marked nests. Each sample egg was analysed for residues of organochlorine pollutants. Nest success in the brown pelican was related to residues of DDE and dieldrin in sample eggs. DDE seemed primarily responsible for nest failure; however, deleterious effects of this pollutant on nest success were not satisfactorily separated from those induced by dieldrin. Significant intercorrelation of all five organochlorine residues identified in the eggs complicated the relationship of residues to nest success. Maximum DDE residues in an egg from a successful nest were 2·37 μg/g and 8·48 μg/g in an egg from an unsuccessful nest. Comparable maximum residues for dieldrin in sample eggs were 0·54 μg/g (successful) and 0·99 μg/g (unsuccessful). Nineteen of the 26 eggs from unsuccessful nests contained DDE residues that exceeded 2·37 μg/g, and 14 of these 26 eggs contained dieldrin residues that exceeded 0·54 μg/g. Residues of DDD, DDT or PCBs in sample eggs were not significantly related to nest success. Reproductive success in the brown pelican colony was subnormal in the year of study—1971 and 1972—but reproductive success was normal in those nests in which the sample egg contained either ≤2·5μg/g of DDE or ≤0·54μg/g of dieldrin.
Organochlorine residues in brown pelican eggs: Relation to reproductive success