Health of tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) nesting in pesticide-sprayed apple orchards in Ontario, Canada. II. Sex and thyroid hormone concentrations and testes development.
ABSTRACT To investigate the effects of pesticides on wild birds, sex (17beta-estradiol; testosterone) and thyroid (triiodothyronine (T3) hormone concentrations, body mass, and testes mass were measured and the development of testes was evaluated in wild tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) nesting in four sprayed apple orchards and three nonsprayed sites in southern Ontario, Canada, in 1995-1996. In orchards, birds were exposed to asmany as 11 individual spray events and five sprays of mixtures of chemicals. Residues of organochlorine pesticides, PCBs, lead, and arsenic concentrations were low and not variable among sites except p,p'-DDE concentrations, which ranged from 0.36 to 2.23 microg/g wet weight in eggs. These persistent compounds were not correlated with any endocrine response measured in tree swallows. In 16-d-old male tree swallow chicks, body mass and concentrations of 17beta-estradiol (estradiol), testosterone, and T3 in plasma showed no significant differences between sprayed and nonsprayed groups and among sites within those groups. However, T3 concentrations were slightly elevated in the sprayed group compared to the nonsprayed group, and there was a significant and positive correlation between T3 and the number of mixtures of sprays applied during egg incubation through chick rearing. In 16-d-old female chicks, there were no significant differences among spray treatments or sites and no correlations with spray exposure for testosterone, estradiol, or T3 in plasma. Body mass was correlated positively with T3 and negatively with estradiol but showed no differences among spray exposure groups or sites. Histology of testes of 16-d-old male chicks indicated there were no significant differences among sprayed and nonsprayed birds in testes mass, area, or diameter, or the presence of Leydig cells in the interstitium, the distribution of the Sertoli cells, or the occurrence of heterophils in the testicular interstitium. For the percentage of spermatogonia present on the basement membrane, there were significant differences among sites, but these differences were not specifically associated with spray exposure. However, there was a marginally significant trend between increasing occurrence of a disrupted Sertoli cell population on the seminiferous tubular basement membranes as the number of mixtures of pesticides sprayed during chick rearing increased. In adult male and female parent tree swallows, there were no differences in hormone concentrations between birds from sprayed and nonsprayed sites. Nor were there any significant correlations between the concentration of any hormone and collection date, body mass, or any type of spray exposure for adults. The correlations between increasing pesticide exposure and abnormal thyroid hormone and testes development in male chicks indicate that further reductions of pesticide use in orchards may benefit the health of birds that nest there. However, it is unclear which of these pesticides or spray mixtures are responsible for these effects, and this needs to be examined in future studies.
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ABSTRACT: Pesticides are toxic chemicals used to control pests, weeds and pathogens. Three quarters of all pesticides are employed in agricultural production, particularly in developed countries, in an effort to mitigate crop damage endured by intensive agriculture. However, after more than 60 years of worldwide usage, their side-effects on terrestrial ecosystems – even when applied as recommended – are obvious. This chapter examines the ecological problems caused by specific chemicals/groups, so that this awareness may help improve agricultural practices through appropriate risk management. Fungicides alter the microbial-fungi communities responsible for the recycling of nutrients in the soil, and copper fungicides are toxic to earthworms and other animals. The routine application of herbicides has produced a net loss of plant biomass and biodiversity in many landscapes, which indirectly reduces the associated arthropod communities and leads to population declines in many species of birds, and possibly amphibians too, due to lack of food. Insecticides are very toxic to most invertebrates in the soil, birds and small mammals, causing significant reductions in their populations and disturbing the trophic structure of their communities. Persistent pesticides accumulate in soil and concentrate through the trophic chain, causing a plethora of sublethal effects which are negative for the survival of individuals as well as the viability of their populations; the long term effects of DDT and cyclodiene poisoning in birds is still an ecological issue despite more than 30 years of not being applied in most developed countries. While pesticides have increased our agricultural productivity and helped feed the current human population, the price of this productivity is being paid by the Earth’s ecosystems at large.01/2011: pages 63-77; , ISBN: 978-1-60805-121-2
Article: Biomarkers of exposure and effects of environmental contaminants on swallows nesting along the Rio Grande, Texas, USA.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: We collected adult cave swallows (Petrochelidon fulva) and cliff swallows (P. pyrrhonota) during the breeding seasons in 1999 and 2000 from eight locations along the Rio Grande from Brownsville to El Paso (unless otherwise specified, all locations are Texas, USA) and an out-of-basin reference location. Body mass, spleen mass, hepatosomatic index (HSI), gonadosomatic index (GSI), thyroxine (T4) in plasma, DNA damage measured as the half-peak coefficient of variation of DNA content (HPCV) in blood cells, as well as acetylcholinesterase and butyrylcholinesterase in brain were compared with concentrations of organochlorines, metals, and metalloids in carcasses to determine potential effects of contaminants on swallows during the breeding season. Concentrations of 1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethylene (p,p'-DDE) were significantly greater in swallows from El Paso than in those from most locations, except for Pharr and Llano Grande. All swallows from these three locations had p,p'-DDE concentrations of 3 microg/g wet weight or greater. Swallows from El Paso either had or shared the highest concentrations of p,p'-DDE, polychlorinated biphenyls, and 13 inorganic elements. Swallows from El Paso exhibited greater spleen mass and HPCV values as well as lower T4 values compared with those from other locations. Thyroxine was a potential biomarker of contaminant exposure in swallows of the Rio Grande, because it was negatively correlated with p,p'-DDE and Se. Spleen mass was positively correlated with selenium and HSI and negatively correlated with body mass, GSI, Mn, and Ni. Overall, the present study suggests that insectivorous birds living in areas of high agricultural and industrial activity along the Rio Grande bioaccumulate environmental contaminants. These contaminants, particularly p,p'-DDE, may be among multiple factors that impact endocrine and hematopoietic function in Rio Grande swallows.Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 07/2006; 25(6):1574-84. · 2.81 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: In 1996 the U.S. Congress charged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop a screening program to test chemicals for their possible estrogenic and other endocrine effects. Shortly thereafter, the Chemical Guidelines Program of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) Environmental Directorate organized a Task Force on Endocrine Disruption Testing and Assessment to coordinate development of internationally harmonized screening and testing protocols. Most of the research devoted to this effort has focused on detecting impaired estrogenicity, androgenicity, and/or steroidogenesis, with little progress toward developing assays to detect chemicals that might interfere with thyroid function. Despite the fact that wildlife biologists have been reporting abnormal thyroid gland development and unusual thyroid hormone (TH) and retinoid ratios in fish and birds since the early 1960s, few studies have demonstrated an association between an environmental contaminant and a particular health end point other than reduced reproductive success at the population level. This article is a review of the literature that specifically examines THs and their role in normal behavior and development in wildlife. It presents several studies that associated changes in the thyroid gland, TH concentrations, and behavior with contaminant exposure. The goal of this article is to provide fodder for the creation of simple screens to detect possible thyroid system agonists and antagonists.Environmental Health Perspectives 07/2002; 110 Suppl 3:363-7. · 7.04 Impact Factor