MadSci Network: Environment & Ecology

Re: How does DDT effect birds eggs?

Date: Thu Aug 16 15:15:59 2001
Posted By: Gil Stoewsand, Faculty, Food Science & Technology, Cornell University
Area of science: Environment & Ecology
ID: 995595399.En

Studies on DDE and eggshell thinning have been done on one very sensitive 
species-the peregrine falcon. Other predators should have a similar 
mechanism of eggshell thinning. Miller et al. Nature 259: 122-124.Briefly, 
lipophillic metabolites of DDT, mainly DDE, are re-released into the blood 
stream when adipose was used for energy during reproduction or from levels 
of metabolites obtained via recent prey. While in the uterus, DDE inhibited 
the enzymes carbonic anhydrase and calcium ATP-ase. This enzyme disruption 
caused partial blockage of the layering of calcium and carbonate on the 
eggshell which induced eggshell thinning and disruption of embryo gas 
transpiration. This, in turn, facilitated eggshell breadage, embryotoxicity 
and the resulting crash of the pergrine falcon. I don't know about pH 
changes having an affect on the amount of calcium deposited by the bird.

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