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Mercury has contaminated rivers worldwide, with health consequences for aquatic organisms and humans who consume them. Researchers have focused on aquatic birds as sentinels for mercury. However, trophic transfer between adjacent ecosystems could lead to the export of aquatic mercury to terrestrial habitats. Along a mercury-contaminated river in Virginia,(More)
Much of the research on sublethal, adverse effects of mercury (Hg) has focused on impairment of neurological function and reproduction in fish and fish-eating vertebrates. Here we examined the associations between Hg and endocrine function (adrenocortical responses and plasma thyroid hormone concentrations) of insectivorous tree swallow nestlings adjacent(More)
Mercury is a global pollutant that biomagnifies in food webs, placing wildlife at risk of reduced reproductive fitness and survival. Songbirds are the most diverse branch of the avian evolutionary tree; many are suffering persistent and serious population declines and we know that songbirds are frequently exposed to mercury pollution. Our objective was to(More)
An experimental tree swallow population was established in the headwaters of the Shenandoah River, Virginia, USA to assess the accumulation and effects of mercury contamination on birds that eat emergent aquatic insects. One tributary, the South River, was contaminated with mercury before 1950. Reproductive success of swallows nesting within 50 m of this(More)
Incorporation of global climate change (GCC) effects into assessments of chemical risk and injury requires integrated examinations of chemical and nonchemical stressors. Environmental variables altered by GCC (temperature, precipitation, salinity, pH) can influence the toxicokinetics of chemical absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion as well as(More)
Mercury is a heavy metal that has contaminated countless ecosystems throughout the world. A large body of literature has documented reproductive, physiological, and behavioral impairments associated with mercury exposure in laboratory settings, but whether and how such effects are manifest in free-living populations remains poorly understood. The purpose of(More)
Dynamics of mercury in feathers and blood of free-living songbirds is poorly understood. Nestling eastern bluebirds (Sialia sialis) living along the mercury-contaminated South River (Virginia, USA) had blood mercury levels an order of magnitude lower than their parents (nestling: 0.09 +/- 0.06 mg/kg [mean +/- standard deviation], n = 156; adult: 1.21 +/-(More)
Mercury is a pervasive environmental contaminant and a well-documented immunosuppressor. However, little is known about the effects of mercury contamination on health of free-living vertebrate populations. The South River in Virginia, USA was heavily contaminated with industrial mercury from 1929 to 1950, and recent studies have documented high levels of(More)
Recent evidence suggests that mercury exposure has negative effects on the health of songbirds, and species that forage in wetlands may be at a greater risk of bioaccumulation of mercury than are those of other habitats. we examined mercury concentrations in blood and feathers from the wetland obligate and rapidly declining Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus(More)
Nelson's and saltmarsh sparrows (Ammodramus nelsoni and A. caudacutus) have recently been recognized as separate species, and because of their limited distributions and the susceptibility of their wetland habitats to climate change, these two new species are of conservation concern. Both species are known to bioaccumulate mercury at breeding sites in New(More)