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Reproduction and survival of tawny owls in relation to persistent organic pollutants

Yoccoz, NG; Bustnes, JO; Bangjord, G; Skaare, JU. 2009. Reproduction and survival of tawny owls in relation to persistent organic pollutants. ENVIRONMENT INTERNATIONAL; 35

The potential effects of organochlorines (OCs) and brominated flame retardants on reproduction and survival were studied in tawny owls (Strix aluco) in Central Norway over a period of 19 years (1986-2004). Concentrations of 14 OCs and five polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) were measured in eggs (n = 104), and Principal Component Analysis was used to produce composite measurements of pollutants: i.e. PC1 and PC2, which accounted for 85% of the variation in contaminant concentrations. There was no evidence for adverse associations between pollutants (PC scores) and life-history traits such as clutch size, probability of producing fledglings and survival, when controlling for potentially confounding variables. Moreover, there was no evidence for interactions between pollutants and vole abundance suggesting no synergistic effects of food stress and pollutants on these life-history traits. There was. however, some evidence for a non-linear negative association between p,p'-DDE (1,1-dichloro-2.2-bis (p-chlorophenyl) ethylene) and eggshell thickness. This suggests that the concentrations of pollutants in this ecosystem were too low to affect reproduction and survival in an owl predominantly consuming prey at low trophic levels, but may be sufficient to cause eggshell thinning at the highest concentrations. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

NVI authors

Skåre Janneche Utne

Head of Research Department