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Accession Number 5001825

Title Reproductive performance and associated developmental and endocrinological effects

of polychlorinated biphenyls (Aroclor 1242) on captive American kestrels (Falco


Project Description The endocrine function (as both hormonal mimics and antagonists) of many environmental

contaminants has been emphasized recently, leading to the speculation that exposure to these

chemicals during early development could lead to functional impairment later in life. Particularly

important is the possibility that contaminants interfere with sex-steroid metabolism (estrogens

have been most widely studied), since when hormone levels are altered during critical stages of

embryonic and post-hatching development, the results can be abnormal maturation of the

reproductive tract, abnormal endocrine function and poor reproductive capability as mature

organisms. Certain PCB congeners have estrogenic activity; PCBs are highly lipophilic, mobilized

with fat during reproduction, and body burdens in reproductive adults are transferred to offspring in

the energy provisioned to the eggs. Using the breeding American kestrels at Patuxent as a model,

this study tests the hypothesis that trans-generational exposure to PCBs can impair later

reproductive performance of exposed offspring, and is associated with abnormal development of

the reproductive system and endocrine function in exposed offspring. It meets Patuxent objectives

in the areas of natural and human impacts on biological resources and will help develop indicators

of the status of biological resources that are exposed to these compounds. Cooperators include

Patuxent scientists Paula Henry, Barnett Rattner and Mark Melancon, and University of Maryland

professor Dr. Mary Ann Ottinger. Results will include morphological, histological and

endocrinological development of kestrel chicks exposed as embryos through PCBs deposited into

the egg, as well as a functional test of the reproductive ability of similarly exposed kestrels.

Keywords development, endocrine disrupters, sex steroids,

Principal John B French, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center:;


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