DDT Residues and Declining Reproduction in the Bermuda Petrel

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Science  01 Mar 1968:
Vol. 159, Issue 3818, pp. 979-981
DOI: 10.1126/science.159.3818.979


Residues of DDT [1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethane] averaging 6.44 parts per million in eggs and chicks of the carnivorous Bermuda petrel indicate widespread contamination of an oceanic food chain that is remote from applications of DDT. Reproduction by the petrel has declined during the last 10 years at the annual rate of 3.25 percent; if the decline continues, reproduction will fail completely by 1978. Concentrations of residues are similar to those in certain terrestrial carnivorous birds whose productivity is also declining. Various considerations implicate contamination by insecticides as a probable major cause of the decline.