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Tuesday, January 30 • 2:40pm - 3:00pm
SYMPOSIA-12: The Wisconsin Bald Eagle Bio-Sentinel Program: Using Bald Eagles as Indicators of Ecosystem Health

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AUTHORS. Sean M. Strom, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Mike W. Meyer, NOVA Ecological Services

ABSTRACT. The Wisconsin Bald Eagle Bio-sentinel Program is a collaborative program that has tracked bald eagle productivity and contaminant levels in WI since 1990. The purpose of this project is to monitor exposure patterns of both legacy and emerging contaminants in nestling bald eagles as well as illustrate the utility of bald eagles as monitoring tools for contaminant exposure and ecosystem health. Data from this monitoring program suggest the slow recovery of bald eagles along Green Bay and Lake Michigan was likely due to exposure to DDE. Results also indicate eaglets along the middle section of the Wisconsin River have elevated levels of polyfluorinated compounds (PFCs) compared to other populations. We also identified a significant reduction in polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) levels in eagles from remediated sections of the Fox River near Green Bay, WI. In addition, we have observed elevated levels of mercury (Hg) in eaglets from large flowage complexes which may reflect the Hg methylation capacity of local ecosystems. Other industrial compounds (phthalates) and endocrine disrupting chemicals (Bisphenol-A) have been detected in some individuals. This project provides natural resource managers with a snapshot of chemical exposure within a given ecosystem. We have illustrated that bald eagles can be useful and reliable indicators of contaminant exposure, environmental change, and ecosystem health.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 2:40pm - 3:00pm CST