DDT con­tam­i­nants in ma­rine mammals may threaten con­dors

Lodi News-Sentinel - - PAGE TWO - By Bradley J. Fikes THE SAN DIEGO UNIONTRIBU­NE

SAN DIEGO — The Cal­i­for­nia con­dor’s dra­matic re­cov­ery from near-ex­tinc­tion was aided by re­moval of toxic sub­stances from the land, which ac­cu­mu­lated in an­i­mals whose car­rion they ate.

But that re­cov­ery may be threat­ened in coastal con­dors by DDT-re­lated con­tam­i­nants in ma­rine mammals, ac­cord­ing to a pre­lim­i­nary study led by a San Diego State Univer­sity re­searcher.

Coastal-dwelling con­dors have more of these com­pounds than those liv­ing in­land, the study found. These are pre­sum­ably ab­sorbed from ma­rine mammal car­casses, said study leader Mag­gie Stack. This might ex­plain why coastal con­dors have thin­ner eggshells than those in­land.

The pre­lim­i­nary find­ings were re­ported Wed­nes­day by a team led by Stack, a Cal­i­for­nia Sea Grant trainee and a grad­u­ate stu­dent at San Diego State Univer­sity. Be­cause the study has not been peer-re­viewed, it re­quires fur­ther val­i­da­tion be­fore it can be pub­lished, Stack said.

If the link is con­firmed, rein­tro­duced con­dors can be given a bet­ter chance of sur­vival by choos­ing lo­ca­tions with a lower level of these con­tam­i­nants, Stack said.

Con­dor pop­u­la­tions have re­cov­ered from a low of 22 wild birds in 1986 to about 300 liv­ing in the wild to­day. The con­ser­va­tion work is as­sisted by the San Diego Zoo, which nur­tures chicks from cap­tive birds at the San Diego Zoo Sa­fari Park.

MEL MELCON/LOS AN­GE­LES TIMES FILE PHO­TO­GRAPH

A male con­dor takes in the view at the Hop­per Moun­tain Na­tional Wildlife refuge, north of Fill­more on Nov. 6, 2014.

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