|SREL Reprint #0542|
Radiocesium Dynamics in Herons Inhabiting a Contaminated Reservoir System
H. Domby, D. Paine and R. W. McFarlane
little blue heron (Florida caerulea) and the green heron (Butorides
virescens) nest at a radionuclide-contaminated reservoir on the Savannah
River Plant near Aiken, South Carolina. Green
herons distributed their nests singly along the periphery of the reservoir but
fed their nestlings exclusively upon amphibians collected form adjacent
uncontaminated Carolina bays. Radiocesium
burdens in green heron nestlings did not exceed 5 pCi/g wet wt. And 12
regurgitated food pellets averaged 0.2 pCi/g.
Twelve pairs of little blue herons established a heronry upon a small
island and fed their nestlings fish and amphibians foraged form within the
differentially radionuclide contaminated reservoir system.
Nestlings within the same nest did not exhibit significant differences in
body burdens, and the maximum radiocesium burden determined was 27.4 pCi/g wet
wt. Substantial differences were
found between nestlings from different nests however.
The radiocesium level of 43 regurgitated food pellets had a high
correlation with observed levels in the nestlings, and variation in food
contamination is believed to be the major contributor to the observed variation
in the nestlings. The variable
contamination of primary prey species was correlated with the differentially
contaminated foraging sites and indicates that adult little blue herons tended
to spatially partition the available foraging areas.
SREL Reprint #0542
Domby, A.H., D. Paine, and R.W. McFarlane. 1977. Radiocesium dynamics in herons inhabiting a contaminated reservoir system. Health Physics 33:523-532.