New Jersey Audubon Society

Bernardsville, NJ, United States

New Jersey Audubon Society

Bernardsville, NJ, United States
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Morrison R.I.G.,Carleton University | Mizrahi D.S.,New Jersey Audubon Society | Ross R.K.,Canadian Wildlife Service Ontario Region | Ottema O.H.,STINASU Foundation for Nature Conservation in Suriname | And 2 more authors.
Waterbirds | Year: 2012

In the 1980's, aerial surveys in South America established that the main wintering areas of Semipalmated Sandpipers (Calidris pusilla) were found on the north coast of the continent, especially in the Guianas (Suriname, French Guiana and Guyana). Although population trend analyses have consistently shown declines in numbers of Semipalmated Sandpipers, especially for birds on migration in eastern North America, until now surveys had not been undertaken to determine whether such declines were reflected in numbers on the main wintering areas. Between December 2008 and January 2011, aerial surveys of major wintering areas in Suriname (3), French Guiana (2) and Guyana (1) were carried out. Results showed dramatic declines, with an overall total of only 21% of the 1980s totala decrease of 79%. A variety of reasons may have contributed to the declines and include habitat changes, range shifts, sustained hunting, or increases in predation, pollution or severe weather.


Burger J.,Rutgers University | Burger J.,Environmental and Occupational Health science Institute EOHSI | Gochfeld M.,Environmental and Occupational Health science Institute EOHSI | Gochfeld M.,Rutgers University | And 7 more authors.
Environmental Research | Year: 2014

There is an abundance of field data on levels of metals for feathers in a variety of birds, but relatively few data for tissues, especially for migrant species from one location. In this paper we examine the levels of arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, manganese, mercury and selenium in muscle, liver, brain, fat and breast feathers from migrant semipalmated sandpipers (Calidris pusilla) collected from Delaware Bay, New Jersey. Our primary objectives were to (1) examine variation as a function of tissue, (2) determine the relationship of metal levels among tissues, and (3) determine the selenium:mercury molar ratio in different tissues since selenium is thought to protect against mercury toxicity. We were also interested in whether the large physiological changes that occur while shorebirds are on Delaware Bay (e.g. large weight gains in 2-3 weeks) affected metal levels, especially in the brain. There were significant differences among tissues for all metals. The brain had the lowest levels of arsenic and cadmium, and was tied for the lowest levels of all other metals except lead and selenium. Correlations among metals in tissues were varied, with mercury levels being positively correlated for muscle and brain, and for liver and breast feathers. Weights vary among individuals at the Delaware Bay stopover, as they arrive light, and gain weight prior to migration north. Bird weight and levels of arsenic, cadmium, and selenium in the brain were negatively correlated, while they were positively correlated for lead. There was no positive correlation for mercury in the brain as a function of body weight. The selenium:mercury molar ratio varied significantly among tissues, with brain (ratio of 141) and fat having the highest ratios, and liver and breast feathers having the lowest. In all cases, the ratio was above 21, suggesting the potential for amelioration of mercury toxicity. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.


PubMed | New Jersey Audubon Society, Endangered and Nongame Species Program, Conserve Wildlife and Rutgers University
Type: | Journal: Environmental research | Year: 2014

There is an abundance of field data on levels of metals for feathers in a variety of birds, but relatively few data for tissues, especially for migrant species from one location. In this paper we examine the levels of arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, manganese, mercury and selenium in muscle, liver, brain, fat and breast feathers from migrant semipalmated sandpipers (Calidris pusilla) collected from Delaware Bay, New Jersey. Our primary objectives were to (1) examine variation as a function of tissue, (2) determine the relationship of metal levels among tissues, and (3) determine the selenium:mercury molar ratio in different tissues since selenium is thought to protect against mercury toxicity. We were also interested in whether the large physiological changes that occur while shorebirds are on Delaware Bay (e.g. large weight gains in 2-3 weeks) affected metal levels, especially in the brain. There were significant differences among tissues for all metals. The brain had the lowest levels of arsenic and cadmium, and was tied for the lowest levels of all other metals except lead and selenium. Correlations among metals in tissues were varied, with mercury levels being positively correlated for muscle and brain, and for liver and breast feathers. Weights vary among individuals at the Delaware Bay stopover, as they arrive light, and gain weight prior to migration north. Bird weight and levels of arsenic, cadmium, and selenium in the brain were negatively correlated, while they were positively correlated for lead. There was no positive correlation for mercury in the brain as a function of body weight. The selenium:mercury molar ratio varied significantly among tissues, with brain (ratio of 141) and fat having the highest ratios, and liver and breast feathers having the lowest. In all cases, the ratio was above 21, suggesting the potential for amelioration of mercury toxicity.


PubMed | Kansas State University, U.S. Geological Survey, Manomet Center for Conservation science, Wildlife Conservation Society and 28 more.
Type: | Journal: Movement ecology | Year: 2016

Geolocators are useful for tracking movements of long-distance migrants, but potential negative effects on birds have not been well studied. We tested for effects of geolocators (0.8-2.0g total, representing 0.1-3.9% of mean body mass) on 16 species of migratory shorebirds, including five species with 2-4 subspecies each for a total of 23 study taxa. Study species spanned a range of body sizes (26-1091g) and eight genera, and were tagged at 23 breeding and eight nonbreeding sites. We compared breeding performance and return rates of birds with geolocators to control groups while controlling for potential confounding variables.We detected negative effects of tags for three small-bodied species. Geolocators reduced annual return rates for two of 23 taxa: by 63% for semipalmated sandpipers and by 43% for the arcticola subspecies of dunlin. High resighting effort for geolocator birds could have masked additional negative effects. Geolocators were more likely to negatively affect return rates if the total mass of geolocators and color markers was 2.5-5.8% of body mass than if tags were 0.3-2.3% of body mass. Carrying a geolocator reduced nest success by 42% for semipalmated sandpipers and tripled the probability of partial clutch failure in semipalmated and western sandpipers. Geolocators mounted perpendicular to the leg on a flag had stronger negative effects on nest success than geolocators mounted parallel to the leg on a band. However, parallel-band geolocators were more likely to reduce return rates and cause injuries to the leg. No effects of geolocators were found on breeding movements or changes in body mass. Among-site variation in geolocator effect size was high, suggesting that local factors were important.Negative effects of geolocators occurred only for three of the smallest species in our dataset, but were substantial when present. Future studies could mitigate impacts of tags by reducing protruding parts and minimizing use of additional markers. Investigators could maximize recovery of tags by strategically deploying geolocators on males, previously marked individuals, and successful breeders, though targeting subsets of a population could bias the resulting migratory movement data in some species.


Tsipoura N.,New Jersey Audubon Society | Burger J.,04 Allison Road | Burger J.,Rutgers University | Newhouse M.,NJ Meadowlands Commission | And 4 more authors.
Environmental Research | Year: 2011

The New Jersey Meadowlands are located within the heavily urbanized New York/New Jersey Harbor Estuary and have been subject to contamination due to effluent and runoff from industry, traffic, and homes along the Hackensack River and nearby waterways. These extensive wetlands, though heavily impacted by development and pollution, support a wide array of bird and other wildlife species. Persistent contaminants may pose threats to birds in these habitats, affecting reproduction, egg hatchability, nestling survival, and neurobehavioral development. Metals of concern in the Meadowlands include arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, and mercury. These metals were analyzed in eggs, feathers, muscle, and liver of Canada geese (Branta canadensis) breeding in four wetland sites. We sampled geese collected during control culling (n=26) and collected eggs from goose nests (n=34). Levels of arsenic were below the minimum quantification level (MQL) in most samples, and cadmium and mercury were low in all tissues sampled. Chromium levels were high in feather samples. Mercury levels in eggs of Canada geese, an almost exclusively herbivorous species, were lower (mean ±SE 4.29±0.30 γg/g wet weight) than in eggs of omnivorous mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), and insectivorous red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) and marsh wrens (Cistothorus palustris) from the Meadowlands, consistent with trophic level differences. However, lead levels were higher in the goose eggs (161±36.7. ng/g) than in the other species. Geese also had higher levels of lead in feathers (1910±386. ng/g) than those seen in Meadowlands passerines. By contrast, muscle and liver lead levels were within the range reported in waterfowl elsewhere, possibly a reflection of metal sequestration in eggs and feathers. Elevated lead levels may be the result of sediment ingestion or ingestion of lead shot and sinkers. Finally, lead levels in goose liver (249±44.7. ng/g) and eggs (161±36.7. ng/g) may pose a risk if consumed frequently by humans. Mill Creek, the site with the most documented prior contamination, had significantly elevated cadmium, chromium, mercury, and lead in goose tissues. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.


Gratto-Trevor C.,Environment Canada | Morrison R.I.G.,Carleton University | Mizrahi D.,New Jersey Audubon Society | Lank D.B.,Simon Fraser University | And 3 more authors.
Waterbirds | Year: 2012

The Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla) is a small, abundant shorebird that breeds primarily in sub-Arctic to mid-Arctic habitats across the Nearctic and winters principally along the northern and central coasts of South America. No subspecies have been described and little is known concerning their genetics. However, birds show a cline in bill length across the Arctic, with longest bills in the east and shortest in the west. There appear to be several 'steps' in the cline, suggesting a division into eastern, central and western breeding populations. Since females average longer bills than males in a breeding population, there is considerable overlap of bill lengths at migration staging areas. Based on bill length patterns and sightings and recoveries of marked individuals, most western breeders migrate south through the prairies, along with some birds from central Arctic populations. The remaining central Arctic breeders, and all eastern Arctic birds, migrate south through the north Atlantic Coast of North America, particularly the Bay of Fundy. Western Arctic breeders appear to winter farther west in South America than eastern breeders, although there is considerable mixing among populations in French Guiana and Guyana. In spring, birds from the eastern Arctic migrate north through the U.S. Atlantic coast, including Delaware Bay. Central and western Arctic breeders primarily migrate north through the interior of North America. Therefore, central Arctic breeders in particular demonstrate an elliptical migration pattern.


Miller M.P.,U.S. Geological Survey | Gratto-Trevor C.,Environment Canada | Haig S.M.,U.S. Geological Survey | Mizrahi D.S.,New Jersey Audubon Society | And 2 more authors.
Waterbirds | Year: 2013

Semipalmated Sandpipers (Calidris pusilla) are among the most common North American shorebirds. Breeding in Arctic North America, this species displays regional differences in migratory pathways and possesses longitudinal bill length variation. Previous investigations suggested that genetic structure may occur within Semipalmated Sandpipers and that three subspecies corresponding to western, central, and eastern breeding groups exist. In this study, mitochondrial control region sequences and nuclear microsatellite loci were used to analyze DNA of birds (microsatellites: n = 120; mtDNA: n = 114) sampled from seven North American locations. Analyses designed to quantify genetic structure and diversity patterns, evaluate genetic evidence for population size changes, and determine if genetic data support the existence of Semipalmated Sandpiper subspecies were performed. Genetic structure based only on the mtDNA data was observed, whereas the microsatellite loci provided no evidence of genetic differentiation. Differentiation among locations and regions reflected allele frequency differences rather than separate phylogenetic groups, and similar levels of genetic diversity were noted. Combined, the two data sets provided no evidence to support the existence of subspecies and were not useful for determining migratory connectivity between breeding sites and wintering grounds. Birds from western and central groups displayed signatures of population expansions, whereas the eastern group was more consistent with a stable overall population. Results of this analysis suggest that the eastern group was the source of individuals that colonized the central and western regions currently utilized by Semipalmated Sandpipers.


Burger J.,Rutgers University | Tsipoura N.,New Jersey Audubon Society
Environmental Monitoring and Assessment | Year: 2014

The health of horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) eggs is important not only to maintain horseshoe crab populations, but because they are a resource for higher trophic levels, such as fish and shorebirds. We examined the concentrations of arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, manganese, mercury, and selenium in the eggs of horseshoe crabs from Delaware Bay (between New Jersey and Delaware, USA) in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1999, 2000, and 2012 to determine if there were significant temporal changes and if levels appear to pose a health risk to the crabs themselves, or to predators that consume them. All metal levels declined in horseshoe crab eggs between 1994 and 2012, although the declines were much less consistent for lead and chromium than that for mercury and cadmium. Levels of contaminants found in these eggs are well below those known to cause adverse effects in the crabs themselves or to organisms that consume them, such as migrating shorebirds. © 2014, Springer International Publishing Switzerland.


Johnson B.J.,Rutgers University | Johnson B.J.,College Farm Road | Munafo K.,New Jersey Audubon Society | Shappell L.,Rutgers University | And 4 more authors.
Urban Ecosystems | Year: 2012

This study investigated the impacts of urban wetlands and their adjacent residential environments on the transmission dynamics of West Nile virus (WNV) within the state of New Jersey (USA). A working hypothesis was that urban wetlands decrease the local prevalence of WNV through the dilution effect from increased bird diversity, and through relative reductions in the numbers of competent avian host and mosquito species commonly associated with WNV. Surveys of mosquito and bird communities were undertaken at six urban wetlands and their adjacent residential environments over two seasons (2009, 2010). The community compositions of both avian and mosquito species differed significantly across habitats, and over relatively short geographical distances. Residential areas contained significantly higher proportions of WNV-competent mosquito species (31.25 ± 5.3%; e. g. Culex pipiens and Culex restuans), and WNV-competent avian host species (62.8 ± 2.3%, e. g. House Sparrow and American Robin) when compared to adjacent urban wetlands (13.5 ± 2.1%; 35.4 ± 2.1% respectively). Correspondingly, WNV infection rates within local Culex spp. populations indicate that WNV was more prevalent within residential areas (28.53/1000) compared to wetlands (16.77/1000). Large urban wetlands (≥100 ha) produced significantly lower weekly WNV infection rates in local Culex spp. (6.67 ± 2.84/1000) compared to small (<15 ha) wetlands (22.57 ± 6.23/1000). Avian species richness was also influenced by patch size. Large urban wetlands contained significantly more species than small wetland patches. These results confirm that the community compositions of mosquito and avian hosts are important drivers in WNV infections, and that the ecological conditions that favor transmission are more strongly associated with urban residential environments than with adjacent urban wetlands. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

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