USGS



BIOLOGICAL AND ECOTOXICOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF TERRESTRIAL VERTEBRATE SPECIES RESIDING IN ESTUARIES



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Ring-billed Gull

Ring-billed Gull, Photo by Francois Bourgeot
Photo by Francois Bourgeot, Website: http://go.to/naturephoto

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Ring-billed Gull, click photo to go to the Patuxent Bird ID InfoCenter

 

Biological Characteristics

Species

Larus delawarensis is a medium-sized gull. Males range in size from 46 to 54 cm with an average weight of 550g (range 400-700 g) and are typically larger than females. Females range in size from 43 to 50 cm with an average weight of 470 g (range 300-600 g). Adult gulls have a white head and neck, sometimes with pale gray mottling. Back and wings are gray and primaries are blackish with white tips. Juvenile plumage varies greatly and ranges in color from mottled brown to gray. Ring-billed gulls are named for the subterminal black band on their yellow bills. Their legs and feet are olive yellow (Ryder, 1993).

Status in Estuaries

This species nests in ground colonies sometimes with other gull species or terns on islands in freshwater lakes or marshes. Nests are located on low, sparsely vegetated substrates with some overhead cover. The breeding pair cooperates in defending territory, constructing the nest, incubating the eggs and tending the young. Nest site territory is 1-4 m 2. The nest is constructed out of dried plant material and varies in size. A clutch consists of 2-3 smooth olive-gray eggs covered with irregular spots in shades of brown. Young are semiprecocial (Ryder, 1993). The maximum age of a ring-billed gull in the wild is just over 27 years (Klimkiewicz, 2002 ).

Abundance and Range

Ring-billed gulls inhabit inland areas more often than other gull species. Breeding range stretches west and north from the Great Lakes across the northern tier of U.S. states, and bordering Canadian territories. East of the Great Lakes, breeding range includes east-northeast New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, southern Labrador and Newfoundland. This species does not winter in a specific range but most populations are distributed along Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts. May spend winters locally near open water and sources of food (reservoirs, lakes, landfills, dumps, etc.) on lower Great Lakes. World population is estimated at 3-4 million individuals with 70% nesting in Canada. Numbers continue to increase throughout its range due in part to sufficient supply of fish and human refuse (Ryder, 1993).

Site Fidelity

Birds banded as chicks have returned to nest at natal lakes and banded adults returned to colonies where they nested previously. Males show higher fidelity to natal site. Site fidelity increases with age, breeding experience and success, and habitat stability. May also show fidelity to wintering areas (Ryder, 1993).

Ease of Census

Simple

Feeding Habits

Ring-billed gulls are opportunistic feeders and their diet can include fish, insects, earthworms, rodents, and grain. Foraging methods include walking on land, wading in shallow water, plunging on surface of water, skimming over surface of water for small fish, and hawking for flying insects. They scavenge along roads and at beaches, garbage dumps and parks. They will also feed on eggs and chicks of other gulls (including its own) and other avian species (Ryder, 1993).


Ring-billed Gull Contaminant Exposure Data

  I.

Organochlorine Contaminants

A.

Concentrations in Adults and Juveniles

1.

Between 1960 and 1964, high numbers of fish-eating birds were found dead on Tule Lake and Lower Klamath Refuges in California (Keith, 1966). Two ring-billed gulls collected (one in 1961, the other in 1962) had composite samples consisting of 5 g each of heart, liver, kidney, muscle and brain analyzed for insecticide residues. The bird collected in 1961 contained 1.3 mg/g wet weight DDT and the bird collected in 1962 contained 9.6 mg/g DDT. DDT was present in all bird species sampled and was consistently among the highest residues found in tissues. Toxaphene and dieldrin were not at detectable levels in these 2 gulls, but toxaphene was found in other dead fish-eating birds at high levels. Toxaphene residues were not found in birds after 1961 which led investigators to believe that DDT was less of a factor than toxaphene in relation to the bird deaths.

2.

In 1963 two adult and two juvenile (30-40 days old) ring-billed gulls were collected at Spider Island, Lake Michigan. Pesticide residues were analyzed in brain tissue, breast muscle, and body fat (Hickey et al., 1966). Residues were progressively higher in brain, breast muscle and body fat and higher in adult birds. Mean concentration of DDT in brain tissue of adult and juvenile gulls was 1.4 and 0.11 mg/g wet weight, respectively. Mean concentration of DDT in breast muscle of adults and juveniles was 5.2 and 0.61 mg/g, respectively. Mean concentration of DDT in body fat of adults and juveniles was 183 and 20.3 mg/g, respectively. Mean concentration of DDE in brain tissue of adult and juvenile gulls was 5.0 and 0.54 mg/g wet weight, respectively. Mean concentration of DDE in breast muscle of adults and juveniles was 21.0 and 2.7 mg/g, respectively. Mean concentration of DDE in body fat of adults and juveniles was 720 and 52.6 mg/g, respectively. Mean concentration of TDE in brain tissue of adult and juvenile gulls was 0.61 and 0.06 mg/g wet weight, respectively. Mean concentration of TDE in breast muscle of adults and juveniles was 1.8 and 0.26 mg/g, respectively. Mean concentration of TDE in body fat of adults and juveniles was 72 and 4.9 mg/g, respectively. Organochlorine residue levels found in the four gulls were much higher than those found in fish but were much less than levels found in herring gulls from Green Bay, Lake Michigan, also collected in 1963. Three dead ring-billed gulls were collected in 1964 during the course of a die-off near Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Specific values were not reported here, but organochlorine residues in these birds did not differ from those levels found in the ring-billed gulls above.

3.

Between 1963 and 1965 the California Department of Fish and Game and Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife collected data on insecticide contaminant levels in 86 species of wildlife in California (Keith and Hunt, 1966). The body fat of one ring-billed gull contained 1 mg/g wet weight DDT, 20.4 mg/g DDE, 0.3 mg/g dieldrin, and 4.8 mg/g toxaphene.

4.

In 1969 and 1973 dead or dying ring-billed gulls were found throughout southern Ontario, Canada. Brain tissue of 82 gulls (50 from 1969, 32 from 1973) was analyzed for organochlorines. Twenty-one healthy gulls were shot for comparison analyses (Sileo et al., 1977). Of the gulls collected in 1969, cause of death of three was disease (8 mg/g DDE, 0.15 mg/g dieldrin, and 32 mg/g PCBs) and the cause of death of 29 gulls was not apparent (105 mg/g DDE, 4.73 mg/g dieldrin, and 467 mg/g PCBs). Eighteen healthy gulls were shot for analyses (2 mg/g DDE, 0.14 mg/g dieldrin, and 8 mg/g PCBs). Of the gulls collected in 1973, cause of death of four was disease (6 mg/g DDE, 0.02 mg/g dieldrin, and 133 mg/g PCBs) and the cause of death of 20 gulls was not apparent (24 mg/g DDE, 0.96 mg/g dieldrin, and 311 mg/g PCBs). Three healthy gulls were shot for analyses (1 mg/g DDE, 0.02 mg/g dieldrin, and 5 mg/g PCBs). For gulls dead of no apparent cause, levels of DDE, dieldrin,and PCBs averaged 30-90 times higher than levels in healthy gulls. Researchers suspected organochlorine poisoning as cause of death by clinical, necropsy, histologic, and toxologic findings and absence of any other apparent cause of death.

5.

Between 1973 and 1988 dead birds were collected from Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and carcasses and various tissues were submitted for organochlorine residue analysis(Frank and Braun, 1990). For birds collected in 1973 from Lake Erie, mean organochlorine residues in brain tissue from 2 birds were 27.6 mg/g wet weight t-DDT, 1.07 mg/g dieldrin, 0.01 mg/g chlordane, and 323 mg/g total PCBs; mean residues in liver tissue from 3 birds were 81.7 mg/g t-DDT, 2.03 mg/g dieldrin, 0.02 mg/g chlordane, and 423 mg/g total PCBs; residues in kidney tissue from one bird were 54.4 mg/g t-DDT, 2.17 mg/g dieldrin, 0.02 mg/g chlordane, and 280 mg/g total PCBs; and residues in muscle tissue of one bird were 29 mg/g t-DDT, 0.84 mg/g dieldrin, 0.01 mg/g chlordane, and 300 mg/g total PCBs. Brain tissue from one bird collected in 1981 from Lake Erie contained 38.1 mg/g t-DDT, 2.20 mg/g dieldrin, 0.93 mg/g chlordane, 0.80 mg/g heptachlor epoxide, 42.1 mg/g total PCBs, and <0.01 mg/g mirex. For birds collected in 1982 from Lake Erie, mean residues in brain tissue from 2 birds were 14.2 mg/g t-DDT, 0.05 mg/g dieldrin, 0.04 mg/g chlordane, 0.01 mg/g heptachlor epoxide, 9.9 mg/g total PCBs, and <0.01 mg/g mirex. For birds collected in 1982 from Lake Ontario, mean residues in brain tissue from 5 birds were 2.21 mg/g t-DDT, 0.03 mg/g dieldrin, 0.19 mg/g chlordane, 0.01 mg/g heptachlor epoxide, 18.6 mg/g total PCBs, and 0.62 mg/g mirex. For birds collected in 1983 from Lake Ontario, mean residues in brain tissue from 7 birds were 1.35 mg/g t-DDT, 0.08 mg/g dieldrin, 0.04 mg/g chlordane, 0.006 mg/g heptachlor epoxide, 5.1 mg/g total PCBs, and 0.06 mg/g mirex. Of all the bird species analyzed, gull brains contained the highest residues of organochlorines in the 1970’s and were the only group to show a definite decline in residues in the 1980’s.

6.

In late summer 1977 two post-fledge ring-billed gulls were shot and collected from Duluth-Superior Harbor, Lake Superior, Minnesota. Samples of pectoral muscle were taken and analyzed for organochlorine residues (Niemi et al., 1986). Concentrations found in the samples were 2.7 and 3.4 mg/g fresh weight PCBs, 0.02 and 0.02 mg/g HCB, 0.3 and 0.4 mg/g DDE, and 0.2 and 0.2 mg/g DDT. Concentrations of organochlorines were higher in post-fledge muscle samples than those found in pre-fledge muscle samples but residues were still below levels that affect reproduction in gull species.

7.

In 1978 ring-billed gulls were shot and collected from the Arroyo Colorado, lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas and analyzed for organochlorine residues (White et al., 1983). Fourteen gulls were collected from Llano Grande Lake. Median values in whole carcasses of DDE , toxaphene , and PCBs were 8, 0.8, and 0.9 mg/g wet weight, respectively. All 14 birds contained DDE residues which ranged from 2 to 25 mg/g. Thirteen birds contained toxaphene (range ND-3 mg/g) and 11 birds contained PCBs (range ND-9 mg/g). T welve gulls were collected from South Padre Island. Median values in whole carcasses of DDE , toxaphene , and PCBs were 3, 0.2, and 4 mg/g wet weight, respectively. All 12 birds contained DDE (range 0.3-24 mg/g) and PCBs (range 0.8-15 mg/g). Only 4 gulls had detectable levels of toxaphene (range ND-1 mg/g). DDE residues in ring-billed gulls were generally higher at Llano Grande Lake than at South Padre Island. The Arroyo Colorado is contaminated with DDE and toxaphene and residues in fish and birds are within ranges known to cause population declines.

8.

In 2000, two-hundred plus wild birds were collected across Connecticut in efforts to screen birds for West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). Over half of these birds were also analyzed for organochlorine pesticide residues (Krol et al., 2002). One ring-billed gull was collected. DDE was found in gizzard, liver and brain tissues at 0.06. 0.04, and 0.48 mg/g wet weight, respectively. Interestingly, most birds that tested positive for WNV or EEE also contained organochlorine residues.

B.

Concentrations in Chicks and Nestlings

1.

In 1977 pectoral muscle and blood samples were collected from 10 pre-fledge ring-billed gull chicks from Duluth-Superior Harbor, Lake Superior, Minnesota. Pre-fledge blood and muscle samples were analyzed for organochlorine residues (Niemi et al., 1986). Mean (range) concentrations in pectoral muscle samples (n=10) were 5.5 (ND-17.4) mg/g fresh weight PCBs, 0.03 (0.01-0.09) mg/g HCB, 2.1 (0.9-3.2) mg/g DDE, and 1.4 (0.2-3.5) mg/g DDT. Mean (range) concentrations in blood samples (n=10) were 0.1 (ND-0.2) mg/g PCBs, 0.00 (ND-0.01) mg/g HCB, and 0.01 (ND-0.02) mg/g DDT. DDE was not detected in any of the blood samples. The concentrations of organochlorines found in this study are below those that affect reproduction in gull species.

C.

Concentrations in Eggs and Embryos

1.

Between 1963 and 1965 the California Department of Fish and Game and Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife collected data on insecticide contaminant levels in 86 species of wildlife in California (Keith and Hunt, 1966). The yolk of one ring-billed gull egg contained 1.9 mg/g wet weight DDT, 6.8 mg/g DDE, 0.94 mg/g dieldrin, 0.2 mg/g toxaphene, and 0.6 mg/g heptachlor epoxide.

2.

In 1965 and 1966 ring-billed gull eggs were collected from the Great Basin region of California and the yolks analyzed for various chlorinated hydrocarbon residues ( Hagen, 1975). One egg collected in 1965 contained 0.40 mg/g DDT, 3.1 mg/g DDE, and 0.20 mg/g dieldrin. Three eggs collected in 1966 contained 0.2, 0.8, and 0.5 mg/g DDD, 3.0, 14.1, and 5.0 mg/g DDE, and 0.2, 0.5, and 0.7 mg/g dieldrin. Two of the three eggs contained 0.07 and 0.1 mg/g DDT.

3.

Between 1969 and 1972 the Canadian Wildlife Service supported different projects investigating the effects of toxic substances on birds throughout Canada. Eggs of a variety of bird species were analyzed for DDE and PCB (Gilbertson and Reynolds, 1974). The mean concentrations of DDE and PCB in 2 ring-billed gull eggs from Manitoba, Canada were 11.7 and 10.8 mg/g, dry weight, respectively. The mean concentrations of DDE and PCB in 2 ring-billed gull eggs from Lake Huron, Canada were 18.6 and 113 mg/g, respectively. The mean concentrations of DDE and PCB in 2 ring-billed gull eggs from Lake Erie, Canada were 18.3 and 140 mg/g, respectively. The mean concentrations of DDE and PCB in 4 ring-billed gull eggs from Lake Ontario, Canada were 60.5 (range 48.2-75.8) and 379 (range 260-553) mg/g, respectively. The mean concentrations of DDE and PCB in 6 ring-billed gull eggs from New Brunswick, Canada were 5.8 (range 4.15-8.31) and 24.7 (range 15.8-38.9) mg/g, respectively. Out of all bird species sampled from a wide geographic distribution, ring-billed gull eggs from the Great Lakes region had higher concentrations of DDE and PCB than those from other regions of Canada.

4.

In 1977 ten ring-billed gull eggs were collected from Duluth-Superior Harbor, Lake Superior, Minnesota and analyzed for organochlorine residues (Niemi et al., 1986). Mean (range) concentrations in the samples were 5.5 (ND-17.4) mg/g fresh weight, PCBs, 0.03 (0.01-0.09) mg/g HCB, 2.1 (0.9-3.2) mg/g DDE, and 1.4 (0.2-3.5) mg/g DDT. PCB residues in eggs were less than values reported in earlier years for ring-billed gulls in the northern part of Lake Superior.

5.

In 1979 ring-billed gull eggs were collected from Mugg’s Island, Lake Ontario and Fighting Island, Detroit River and analyzed for organochlorines (Bishop et al., 1992). Twenty-four eggs were collected from Mugg’s Island. Alpha-chlordane was found in 14 eggs with mean concentration of 0.0671 mg/g, wet weight. The following contaminants were found in all eggs and mean concentrations were as follows: oxychlordane, 0.0758 mg/g; hexachlorobenzene, 0.1192 mg/g; DDD, 0.1104 mg/g; DDE, 3.019 mg/g, DDT, 0.0263 mg/g; dieldrin, 0.5221 mg/g; heptachlor epoxide, 0.0804; beta-hexachlorocyclohexane, 0.0275 mg/g; mirex, 0.7471 mg/g; photomirex, 0.2658 mg/g; total PCBs, 27.25 mg/g. Ten eggs were collected from Fighting Island. Alpha-chlordane was found in 2 eggs with mean concentration of 0.04 mg/g. Oxychlordane was found in 6 eggs with mean concentration of 0.0317 mg/g. The following contaminants were found in all eggs and mean concentrations were as follows: hexachlorobenzene, 0.095 mg/g; DDD, 0.055 mg/g; DDE, 2.093 mg/g, DDT, 0.0281 mg/g; dieldrin, 0.355 mg/g; heptachlor epoxide, 0.06; beta-hexachlorocyclohexane, 0.0076 mg/g; mirex, 0.0054 mg/g; photomirex, 0.0024 mg/g; total PCBs, 23.24 mg/g.

6.

Ten eggs were collected in 1980 from Lone Tree Island, Green Bay, Lake Michigan and analyzed for organochlorine residues (Heinz et al. 1985). Mean (range) concentrations (n=10) were (in mg/g, wet weight) 17.0 (6.2-44) PCBs, 5.8 (2.4-31) DDE, 0.77 (0.41-1.2) dieldrin, 0.17 (ND-0.44) heptachlor epoxide, 0.25 (0.09-0.47) oxychlordane, 0.21 (0.11-0.32) cis-chlordane, 0.18 (ND-0.44) trans-nonachlor, and 0.15 (ND-0.55) toxaphene. PCBs had the highest residues of all observed contaminants.

7.

In 1984, ring-billed and herring gull eggs were collected from Hamilton Harbour, Lake Ontario and analyzed for organochlorine contaminants (Weseloh et al., 1995). This research finds that ring-billed gull eggs had consistently lower levels of HCB , DDE , mirex, and PCBs than those in herring gulls eggs. However, dieldrin and heptachlor epoxide concentrations in ring-billed gull eggs were approximately twice those in herring gull eggs. This pattern is consistent with results from other studies (Heinz et al. 1985, Bishop et al. 1992) Contaminant concentrations are reported in the next entry—Bishop et al. 1992.

8.

In 1984 ring-billed gull eggs were collected from Hamilton Harbour, Lake Ontario and Fighting Island, Detroit River and analyzed for organochlorines (Bishop et al., 1992). Ten eggs were collected form each location. All eggs from Hamilton Harbour contained mean concentrations of the following: alpha-chlordane , 0.061 mg/g; gamma-chlordane, 0.0287 mg/g; oxychlordane, 0.095 mg/g; 1,2,3,4-chlorobenzene, 0.0005 mg/g; 1,2,3,5-/1,2,4,5-chlorobenzene, 0.0005 mg/g; pentachlorobenzene, 0.0008 mg/g; hexachlorobenzene, 0.0436 mg/g; DDD, 0.031 mg/g; DDE, 3.222 mg/g; DDT, 0.325 mg/g; dieldrin, 0.409 mg/g; heptachlor epoxide, 0.107 mg/g; alpha-hexachlorocyclohexane, 0.0025 mg/g; beta-hexachlorocyclohexane, 0.004 mg/g; mirex, 0.504 mg/g; trans-nonachlor, 0.04 mg/g; total PCBs, 18.78 mg/g. All eggs from Fighting Island contained mean concentrations of the following: alpha-chlordane , 0.02 mg/g; gamma-chlordane, 0.0045 mg/g; oxychlordane, 0.062 mg/g; 1,2,3,4-chlorobenzene, 0.0007 mg/g; 1,2,3,5-/1,2,4,5-chlorobenzene, 0.0007 mg/g; pentachlorobenzene, 0.0049 mg/g; hexachlorobenzene, 0.0327 mg/g; DDD, 0.0105 mg/g; DDE, 1.081 mg/g; DDT, 0.0203 mg/g; dieldrin, 0.276 mg/g; heptachlor epoxide, 0.061 mg/g; alpha-hexachlorocyclohexane, 0.003 mg/g; beta-hexachlorocyclohexane, 0.0037 mg/g; mirex, 0.415 mg/g; trans-nonachlor, 0.016 mg/g; total PCBs, 10.63 mg/g. The eggs from Fighting Island appeared to show decreases in organochlorine concentrations when compared to eggs collected in 1979.

9.

Waterbird eggs were collected from around the Great Lakes Region in 1986. One ring-billed gull egg was collected from a colony at CDF Saginaw Bay, Michigan in May 1986 (Tillitt et al., 1991). To assess the overall potencies of PCB -containing extracts of waterbird eggs, a 30 g sample was analyzed with the H4IIE bioassay to determine TCDD-EQ . The TCDD-EQ in the egg was 208.1 pg/g. The greatest TCDD-EQs were found in waterbird eggs from historically polluted or industrialized areas but significant concentrations of TCDD-EQ were detected at all sites tested. TCDD-EQs concurred with residue analyses and biological data from other studies.

10.

Ring-billed gull eggs were collected in 1989 from Lake Ontario (Leslie Street Spit) as part of contaminant monitoring by the Canadian Wildlife Service (Pettit et al., 1994). A pooled sample was analyzed for contaminants and contained the following (based on wet weight): 0.0288 mg/g cis/alpha-chlordane; 0.0016 mg/g trans/gamma chlordane; 0.0704 mg/g oxychlordane; 0.0064 mg/g pentachlorobenzene; 0.0475 mg/g hexachlorobenzene; 0.0021 mg/g DDD; 2.509 mg/g DDE; 0.0228 mg/g DDT; 0.3623 mg/g dieldrin; 0.0616 mg/g heptachlor epoxide; 0.0047 mg/g beta-hexachlorocyclohexane; 0.4744 mg/g mirex; 0.2029 mg/g photomirex; 0.0464 mg/g cis-nonachlor; 0.2108 mg/g trans-nonachlor; 0.0234 mg/g octachlorostyrene; and 6.885 mg/g total PCBs.

11.

In a report of the global distribution of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) , tissues of a variety of animal species were sampled in the 1990’s from urbanized areas in the U.S. (Great Lakes, coastal marine areas, and rivers) and Europe (Giesy and Kannan, 2001). Three ring-billed gull eggs were collected from Lake Huron. Concentrations of PFOS ranged from < 35 to 150 ng/g, wet weight. Fish tissue samples collected from the Great Lakes contained measurable concentrations of PFOS but little information is available regarding any possible toxic effects PFOS may have on wildlife. Current unpublished data indicates that levels of PFOS in wildlife are less than those required to cause significant adverse effects in laboratory animals.

12.

In 1994 ring-billed gull eggs were collected from various locations as part of continued contaminant monitoring on the Great Lakes (Pekarik et al., 1998). Mean concentrations are on a wet weight basis and represent a pooled sample. Samples from Strachan Island, St. Lawrence River contained 0.021 mg/g oxychlordane, 0.0082 mg/g hexachlorobenzene, 0.3681 mg/g DDE, 0.0065 mg/g DDT, 0.0534 mg/g dieldrin, 0.0119 mg/g heptachlor epoxide, 0.0152 mg/g mirex, 0.0061 mg/g photomirex, 0.0367 mg/g trans-nonachlor, 0.4606 mg/g total PCBs. Samples from Hamilton Harbour, Lake Ontario contained 0.0175 mg/g alpha-chlordane , 0.0007 mg/g gamma-chlordane, 0.0397 mg/g oxychlordane, 0.0013 mg/g 1,2,3,4-chlorobenzene, 0.004 mg/g 1,2,4,5-chlorobenzene, 0.0053 mg/g pentachlorobenzene, 0.0265 mg/g hexachlorobenzene, 1.6879 mg/g DDE, 0.0113 mg/g DDT, 0.2353 mg/g dieldrin, 0.042 mg/g heptachlor epoxide, 0.0029 mg/g tris(4-chlorophenyl) methanol, 0.2022 mg/g mirex, 0.0716 mg/g photomirex, 0.0233 mg/g cis-nonachlor, 0.1013 mg/g trans-nonachlor, 0.0084 mg/g octachlorostyrene, and 2.7318 mg/g total PCBs. Samples from Gertrude Island, Lake Huron contained 0.0049 mg/g alpha-chlordane , 0.0324 mg/g oxychlordane, 0.0027 mg/g pentachlorobenzene, 0.0077 mg/g hexachlorobenzene, 0.4965 mg/g DDE, 0.0067 mg/g DDT, 0.1657 mg/g dieldrin, 0.0313 mg/g heptachlor epoxide, 0.0032 mg/g tris(4-chlorophenyl) methanol, 0.0065 mg/g mirex, 0.0071 mg/g cis-nonachlor, 0.0554 mg/g trans-nonachlor, 0.0022 mg/g octachlorostyrene, and 1.2017 mg/g total PCBs. Since monitoring began in the 1970’s, levels of most chlorinated hydrocarbons have decreased significantly at most colonies on the Great Lakes.

13.

In 1996 ring-billed gull eggs were collected from various locations in Canada as part of continued contaminant monitoring on the Great Lakes (Pekarik et al., 1998). Mean concentrations are on a wet weight basis and represent a pooled sample. Samples from Strachan Island, St. Lawrence River contained 0.002 mg/g cis-chlordane, 0.015 mg/g oxychlordane, trace amounts of 1,2,3,4-chlorobenzene, 0.003 mg/g 1,2,4,5-chlorobenzene, 0.003 mg/g pentachlorobenzene, 0.006 mg/g hexachlorobenzene, trace amounts of DDD, 0.545 mg/g DDE, 0.002 mg/g DDT, 0.122 mg/g dieldrin, 0.014 mg/g heptachlor epoxide, 0.016 mg/g mirex, 0.01 mg/g photomirex, 0.006 cis-nonachlor, 0.031 mg/g trans-nonachlor, 0.001 mg/g octachlorostyrene, 0.5498 mg/g total PCBs. Samples from Hamilton Harbour, Lake Ontario contained 0.003 mg/g alpha-chlordane , 0.022 mg/g oxychlordane, trace amounts of pentachlorobenzene, 0.006 mg/g hexachlorobenzene, trace amounts of DDD, 0.608 mg/g DDE, 0.007 mg/g DDT, 0.081 mg/g dieldrin, 0.017 mg/g heptachlor epoxide, 0.06 mg/g mirex, 0.022 mg/g photomirex, 0.009 mg/g cis-nonachlor, 0.039 mg/g trans-nonachlor, 0.003 mg/g octachlorostyrene, and 1.1866 mg/g total PCBs. Samples from Fighting Island, Detroit River contained 0.003 mg/g cis-chlordane, 0.031 mg/g oxychlordane, 0.001 mg/g 1,2,3,4-chlorobenzene, 0.002 mg/g 1,2,4,5-chlorobenzene, 0.002 mg/g pentachlorobenzene, 0.006 mg/g hexachlorobenzene, trace amounts of DDD, 0.515 mg/g DDE, 0.003 mg/g DDT, 0.11 mg/g dieldrin, 0.025 mg/g heptachlor epoxide, 0.005 mg/g mirex, 0.002 mg/g photomirex, 0.005 cis-nonachlor, 0.037 mg/g trans-nonachlor, 0.004 mg/g octachlorostyrene, 1.6624 mg/g total PCBs. Samples from Granite Island, Lake Superior contained 0.006 mg/g alpha-chlordane , 0.059 mg/g oxychlordane, trace amounts of 1,2,3,4-chlorobenzene and 1,2,4,5-chlorobenzene, 0.002 mg/g pentachlorobenzene, 0.017 mg/g hexachlorobenzene, trace amounts of DDD and DDT, 1.362 mg/g DDE, 0.314 mg/g dieldrin, 0.066 mg/g heptachlor epoxide, 0.038 mg/g mirex, 0.021 mg/g photomirex, 0.02 mg/g cis-nonachlor, 0.145 mg/g trans-nonachlor, and 2.7112 mg/g total PCBs. Since monitoring began in the 1970’s, levels of most chlorinated hydrocarbons have decreased significantly at most colonies on the Great Lakes.

II.

Cholinesterase-Inhibiting Pesticides

 

No direct exposure data available

III.

Trace Elements, Metals, and Metalloids

1.

Mercury residues were measured in ring-billed gulls collected in 1970 from Harsen’s Island on Lake St. Clair, Michigan (Dustman et al., 1970). Three females were collected and carcasses and liver tissue were analyzed for Hg residues. Mercury residues in carcasses were 0.70, 0.39, and 0.14 mg/g, wet weight,respectively. Liver tissue samples contained 1.8, 1.2 and 0.65 mg/g Hg,respectively.

2.

In December 1974, one ring-billed gull was collected from a Hg -contaminated salt marsh near Brunswick, Georgia (Gardner et al., 1978). Muscle and liver tissue were analyzed for total Hg . The muscle tissue contained 4.5 mg/g, dry weight Hg (69% was MeHg ). The liver tissue contained 14 mg/g Hg (46% was MeHg). Methyl mercury levels were low in sediments of the salt marsh but accounted for most of the Hg in tissues of higher organisms.

3.

Ten eggs collected from Lone Tree Island, Green Bay, Lake Michigan in 1980 contained on average 0.16 mg/g, wet weight Hg. Mercury concentrations ranged from 0.10 to 0.20 mg/g.

IV.

Petroleum

 

No residue data available


Ring-billed Gull Contaminant Response Data

I.

Organochlorine Contaminants

A.

Eggshell Thinning and Reproduction

 

No response data available

B.

Biochemical and Morphological Responses

1.

Twenty-six abnormal chicks were observed in 1972 and 1973 at a ring-billed gull colony on Mugg’s Island, Lake Ontario (Gilbertson et al., 1976). These chicks were unable to walk or stand properly and moved about on the ground using their wings. Examination of one of these chicks revealed slipped tendons in both legs, resulting in no support at the tibiotarsal tarsometatarsal joint. A similar condition exists in poultry and is attributed to a manganese deficiency, but this condition has not been described in wild birds before. The mean PCB residue of eggs collected from this colony (n=2) in 1972 was 418 mg/g. In 1973 one out of twenty chicks examined from Pigeon Island, Lake Ontario had a crossed bill but PCB residues were not measured. Investigators suggest possible connection between abnormalities and PCBs but more definitive analysis would be required.

2.

In June and July 1995, fifteen ring-billed gull eggs were collected from Sulfur Island, Thunder Bay, Lake Huron, Michigan. The eggs were hatched in the laboratory and killed within 24 hrs of hatching and livers were prepared to examine EROD and porphyrin induction responses of primary hepatocytes to HAHs (Sanderson et al., 1998). The median EC50 value of TCDD for the induction of EROD activity was 20 nM and LOECs for porphyrin induction were 50-1500 nM. EROD induction potencies of TCDD varied among individuals.

3.

Twenty-five adult gulls were collected from each of 4 colonies to assess histopathologic changes in lung tissue (Yauk et al., 2001). Two colonies were located away from sources of pollution (Presqu’ile Provincial Park, Lake Ontario and Chantry Island, Lake Huron) and 2 colonies were situated near large steel operations ( Hamilton Harbour, Ontario, Canada and East Chicago, Lake Michigan, Indiana, USA). Histopathologic changes measured were anthracosis, periarteritis, bronchitis, granuloma formation, and pleuritis. Gulls from Chantry Island (rural colony) had the highest pathology rankings in all categories measured and the East Chicago colony (industrial) had the lowest prevalence of severe histopathology. However, histopathologic differences among the 4 colonies were not significant. Several hypotheses were suggested for the lack of differences: 1) gulls from all the colonies are exposed to pathogens and/or contaminants during their lifespans that induce similar effects; 2) the time spent at the colony is not long enough to result in differences in lung pathology; 3) gull lungs are not sensitive enough for measuring potentially damaging effects of air pollution; 4) histologic endpoints are not relevant to exposure to air pollutants from the steel industry; and 5) acclimation occurs in ring-billed gulls from the industrial locations.

II.

Cholinesterase-Inhibiting Pesticides

 

No response data available

III.

Trace Elements, Metals, and Metalloids

 

No response data available

IV.

Petroleum

 

No response data available


References for Ring-billed Gull

Bishop, C. A., D. V. Weseloh, N. M. Burgess, J. Struger, R. J. Norstrom, R. Turle, and K. A. Logan. 1992. An atlas of contaminants in eggs of fish-eating colonial birds of the Great Lakes (1970-1988). Technical Report No. 152. Canadian Wildlife Service, Ontario Region.

Dustman, E. H., L. F. Stickel, and J. B. Elder. 1970. Mercury in wild animals, Lake St. Clair, 1970. In Environmental Mercury Contamination (R. Hartung and B. D. Hinman, eds.). Ann Arbor Science Publishers, Michigan. 349 pp.

Frank, R. and H. E. Braun. 1990. Organochlorine residues in bird species collected dead in Ontario 1972-1988. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 44:932-939.

Gardner, W. S., D. R. Kendall, R. R. Odom, H. L. Windom, and J. A. Stephens. 1978. The distribution of methyl mercury in a contaminated salt marsh ecosystem. Environmental Pollution 15:243-251.

Giesy, J. P. and K. Kannan. 2001. Global distribution of perfluorooctane sulfonate in wildlife. Environmental Science and Technology 35:1339-1342.

Gilbertson, M. and L. Reynolds. 1974. A summary of DDE and PCB determinations in Canadian birds, 1969 to 1972. Canadian Wildlife Service Occasional Paper No. 19.

Gilbertson, M., R. D. Morris, and R. A. Hunter. 1976. Abnormal chicks and PCB residue levels in eggs of colonial birds on the Lower Great Lakes (1971-1973). The Auk 93:434-442.

Hagen , H. 1975. Chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticide residues in eggs of California birds. California Department of Fish and Game, Wildlife Management Branch Administrative Report No. 75-4.

Heinz, G. H., T. C. Erdman, S. D. Haseltine, and C. Stafford. 1985. Contaminant levels in colonial waterbirds from Green Bay and Lake Michigan, 1975-1980. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 5:223-236.

Hickey, J. J., J. A. Keith, and F. B. Coon. 1966. An exploration of pesticides in a Lake Michigan ecosystem. Journal of Applied Ecology 3(suppl.):141-154.

Keith, J. O. 1966. Insecticide contaminations in wetland habitats and their effects on fish-eating birds. Journal of Applied Ecology 3(suppl.):71-85.

Keith, J. O. and E. G. Hunt. 1966. Levels of insecticide residues in fish and wildlife in California. In Transactions of the 31 st North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference (J. B. Trefethen, ed.). Wildlife Management Institute, Washington D.C.

Klimkiewicz, M. K. 2002. Longevity Records of North American Birds. Version 2002.1. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory, Laurel, MD.

Krol, W. J., T. Arsenault, M. J. I. Mattina. 2002. Persistent organochlorine pesticide contamination of birds collected in Connecticut during the year 2000. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 69:452-458.

Niemi, G. J., T. E. Davis, G. D. Veith, and B. Vieux. 1986. Organochlorine chemical residues in herring gulls, ring-billed gulls, and common terns of Western Lake Superior. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 15:313-320.

Pekarik, C., D. V. Weseloh, G. C. Barrett, M. Simon, C. A. Bishop, and K. E. Pettit. 1998. An atlas of contaminants in the eggs of fish-eating colonial birds of the Great Lakes (1993-1997). Technical Report Series No. 321. Canadian Wildlife Service, Ontario Region.

Pettit, K. E., C. A. Bishop, D. V. Weseloh, and R. J. Norstrom. 1994. An atlas of contaminants in the eggs of fish-eating colonial birds of the Great Lakes, 1989-1992. Technical Report No. 193. Canadian Wildlife Service, Ontario Region.

Ryder, J. P. 1993. Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis). In The Birds of North America, No. 33 (A. Poole, P. Stettenheim, and F. Gill, eds.). Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences; Washington, DC: The American Ornithologists’ Union.

Sanderson, J. T., S. W. Kennedy, and J. P. Giesy. 1998. In vitro induction of ethoxyresorufin-o-deethylase and porphyrins by halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons in avian primary hepatocytes. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 17:2006-2018.

Sileo, L., L. Karstad, R. Frank, M. V. H. Holdrinet, E. Addison, and H. E. Braun. 1977. Organochlorine poisoning of ring-billed gulls in southern Ontario. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 13:313-322.

Tillitt, D. E., G. T. Ankley, D. A. Verbrugge, J. P. Giesy, J. P. Ludwig, and T. J. Kubiak. 1991. H4IIE rat hepatome cell bioassay-derived 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin equivalents in colonial fish-eating waterbird eggs from the Great Lakes. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 21:91-101.

Weseloh, D. V., P. Hamr, C. A. Bishop, and R. J. Norstrom. 1995. Organochlorine contaminant levels in waterbird species from Hamilton Harbour, Lake Ontario: an IJC Area of Concern. Journal of Great Lakes Research 21:121-137.

White, D. H., C. A. Mitchell, H. D. Kennedy, A. J. Krynitsky, and M. A. Ribick. 1983. Elevated DDE and toxaphene residues in fishes and birds reflect local contamination in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas. The Southwestern Naturalist 28:325-333.

Yauk, C. L., J. E. Smits, J. S. Quinn, and C. A. Bishop. 2001. Pulmonary histopathology in ring-billed gulls (Larus delawarensis) from colonies near steel mills and in rural areas. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 66:563-569.

 

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