Maternal transfer of organochlorines and brominated flame retardants in blue tits (**Cyanistes caeruleus**)Maternal transfer of organochlorines and brominated flame retardants in blue tits (**Cyanistes caeruleus**)
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences. Pharmacy
Research group
Behavioural Ecology & Ecophysiology
Toxicological Centre
Publication type
Source (journal)
Environment international. - Oxford
35(2009):1, p. 69-75
Target language
English (eng)
Full text (Publishers DOI)
University of Antwerp
Although eggs have frequently been used as a biomonitoring tool for contamination with organohalogenated pollutants (OHPs), few studies have investigated the processes of maternal transfer in birds. Here, maternal transfer of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) was investigated through comparison of the concentrations and profiles between whole homogenised female blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) and their eggs. In addition, we examined if there was an effect of laying order on the concentrations of PCBs, OCPs and PBDEs. PCBs were the most abundant contaminants in female blue tits and their eggs, followed by OCPs and PBDEs. Among the OCPs, p,p-DDE was the most dominant compound and accounted for more than 80% of the sum OCPs. Egg concentrations decreased significantly in relation to the laying order from 1623 } 148 ng/g lipid weight (lw) to 1040 } 47 ng/g lw for the sum PCBs, from 342 } 24 ng/g lw to 235 } 17 ng/g lw for the sum OCPs and from 49 } 5 ng/g lw to 27 } 5 ng/g lw for the sum PBDEs. When reviewing all studies investigating laying order effects of OHPs in birds, no clear patterns emerged, which may be due to differences in study species and methodology among studies. Despite the fact that there were laying order effects in blue tit clutches, the variance in concentrations of PCBs and PBDEs was larger among clutches than within clutches. Variance in OCP concentrations among clutches was similar to the variance within clutches. These results suggest that one randomly collected blue tit egg from a clutch is useful as biomonitoring tool for PCBs and PBDEs, while for OCPs it is recommended to consistently use the same egg from the laying sequence as a biomonitoring tool. Lipid-normalized concentrations of sum PCBs, sum OCPs and sum PBDEs in female blue tits after clutch completion were comparable to the concentrations in the first-laid eggs. The egg/female lipid concentration ratios for sum PCBs, sum OCPs and sum PBDEs decreased significantly from 1.0 } 0.09 to 0.7 } 0.003, 1.1 } 0.1 to 0.7 } 0.02 and 1.2 } 0.14 to 0.8 } 0.05, respectively, during the course of egg laying. The profiles of the females and eggs differed significantly for the PCBs, OCPs and PBDEs. There was a higher contribution of lower chlorinated PCB congeners (CB 28, CB 52, CB 95, CB 101 and CB 110), BDE 183, p,p-DDT and other less persistent OCPs in the females compared to their eggs. Maternal transfer in blue tits seemed to be selective for the more bioaccumulative and persistent congeners/compounds.