Contaminant exposure of tree swallows in the Milwaukee estuary


Proposed Work: In 2014, up to three new tree swallow nest box arrays (maximum of 20 boxes per array) will be placed in previously un-sampled locations within the AOC. Possible new study locations include Cedar Creek, the Little Menomonee River, and Kinnickinnic River, all of which have a history of significant contaminant issues including two superfund sites, Cedar Creek and Moss-American. Nest boxes will be monitored for reproductive success during the breeding season and samples (eggs and nestlings) will be collected at the appropriate time. Samples will be analyzed for a suite of organic (dioxins and furans, PCBs, polybrominated diphenyl ethers [PBDEs], pesticides, and perfluorinated compounds [PFCs]) and inorganic contaminants (e.g., mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, and other elements), as well as analyzed for a series of biomarkers of exposure. The protocol for this study will follow that used by USGS at the Milwaukee Estuary and other AOCs across the Great Lakes and can be found at ( Following the same protocol will ensure the capability with similar data collected not only within the Milwaukee Estuary AOC but other AOCs as well. This project in 2014 will start the process of establishing breeding tree swallow populations at other locations within the Milwaukee Estuary AOC and will begin some initial sampling at those sites. An expanded proposal will be developed to continue and enhance this study in 2015 and 2016 so that the full complement of samples can be collected at each of the sites and chemically analyzed. As appropriate, and depending on funding, additional sites may be established, if warranted.

Related Reports

Run Project Summary Report
View Umbrella-Projects
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Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
Toxics and Areas of Concern
Reports and Documents
USGS website
Results from three river systems in Milwaukee Estuary AOC - PCBs, PBDEs, metals, pesticides
Proposal for new study locations:Cedar Creek, the Little Menomonee River, and Kinnickinnic River,