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Accession Number 5001855

Title Physiological and teratogenic effects of mercury on aquatic birds nesting along the

mid-to lower Carson River and vicinity, Nevada

Project Description Mining and milling operations in the middle Carson River Basin, Nevada, that peaked between

1865 and 1895, resulted in mercury contamination of the entire mid-to lower Carson River Basin,

including wetlands in Lahontan Valley. In the Carson River system, levels of mercury in water,

riverine sediments, and river bank materials have been found to be among the highest known

worldwide. Lahontan Reservoir, the most important sport and commercial fishery on the Carson

River system, supports a fish population containing some of the most elevated mercury

concentrations in the drainage. This study is designed to evaluate the effects of mercury on

reproductive success of aquatic birds, including fish-eating ones, with respect to threshold levels

of effect (C.J. Henny, BRD) and useful bioindicators for monitoring. Potential bioindicators include

teratogenesis, histopathology and physiological alterations and will be evaluated in black- crowned

night herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) and snowy egrets (Egretta thula) and cormorants.

Measurements of blood chemistry and brain, liver and kidney biochemistry will be evaluated for

tissue damage and oxidative stress.

Keywords carson river basin, egrets, herons, mercury, oxidative stress, reproduction,

Principal David J Hoffman, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center: david_hoffman@usgs.gov; Gary H

Investigators Heinz, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center: gary_heinz@usgs.gov; Charles J Henny, Forest

and Rangeland Ecosystems Science Center: henny@fsl.orst.edu;

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