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Custer, C. M., and Read, L. B., 2006, Polychlorinated biphenyl congener patterns in tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) nesting in the Housatonic River watershed, western Massachusetts, USA, using a novel statistical approach: Environmental Pollution, v. 142, no. 2, p. 235-245.


A novel application of a commonly used statistical approach was used to examine differences in polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congener Patterns among locations and sample matrices in tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) nesting in the Housatonic River watershed in western Massachusetts. USA. The most prevalent PCB congeners in tree swallow tissue samples from the Housatonic River watershed were Ballsmitter Zell numbers 153. 138 180, 187 149, 101, and 170. These congeners were seven of the eight most prevalent congeners in Aroclor (R) 1260, the PCB mixture that was the primary source of contamination in the Housatonic River system. Using paired-Euclidean distances and tolerance limits, it was demonstrated that conuener patterns in swallow tissues from sites on the main stem of the Housatonic River were more similar to one another than to two sites upstream of the contamination or from a nearby reference area. The congener patterns also differed between the reference area and the two upstream tributaries and between the two tributaries. These pattern differences were the same in both pipper (eggs or just hatched nestlings) and 12-day-old nestling samples. Lower-chlorinated congeners appeared to be metabolized in nestlings and pippers compared to diet. and metabolized more in pippers compared to nestlings. Euclidean distances and tolerance limits provide a simple and statistically valid method to compare PCB congener patterns among groups.

Keywords: Tree swallows, PCB congeners, Housatonic River, Tachycineta bicolor, Euclidean distance metric, contaminants, sediment, trends, birds, eggs, bioaccumulation, similarity, Wisconsin, exposure, resident

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