Title

Effects of Dietary PCB Exposure on Adrenocortical Function in Captive American Kestrels (Falco sparverius)

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2003

Publication Title

Ecotoxicology

Volume

12

Issue

4

First Page

199

Last Page

208

DOI

10.1023/A:1022502826800

Abstract

We experimentally examined the effects of dietary exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) on adrenocortical function in American kestrels (Falco sparverius). Nine captive male American kestrels previously exposed to a PCB mixture (Aroclor™1248:1254:1260; 1:1:1) in their diet were subjected to a standardized capture, handling and restraint protocol designed to produce an increase in circulating corticosterone. A similar protocol has been applied to a wide range of avian species and was used here to evaluate the response of PCB-exposed and control kestrels to a defined physical stressor. Both baseline and stress-induced corticosterone levels were significantly lower in PCB-exposed birds when compared with control birds of the same age. PCB-exposed birds exhibited significantly lower corticosterone levels during the corticosterone response when compared with control birds, independent of body condition. Furthermore, baseline corticosterone concentrations exhibited a hormetic response characterized by an inverted U-shaped dose response in relation to total PCB liver burden. These results support several recent studies which report decreased levels of circulating corticosterone in PCB-exposed wild birds. The results presented here provide the first evidence that exposure to an environmentally relevant level of PCBs (approximately 10 mg/kg body weight) can impair the corticosterone stress response in kestrels, potentially increasing the susceptibility of birds to environmental stressors such as severe weather and predatory and human disturbance.

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