Assessing marine endocrine disrupting chemicals in the critically endangered California condor: Implications for reintroduction to coastal environments

R/HCE-01
Start/End: February, 2018 to February, 2020

Through conservation breeding and adaptive management, endangered California condors have returned from the brink of extension to a current population of over 400 at sites in California, Arizona, and Baja California. Yet, California condors feeding in coastal habitats are showing signs of reproductive problems such as eggshell thinning, which can be caused by exposure to certain pollutants known as endocrine disrupting compounds. This project aims to provide a detailed assessment of dietary contaminant exposure for condors living in coastal habitats.

This project screens for environmental organic contaminants by a novel non-targeted analytical technique, and then determines their endocrine disrupting potential via in vitro hormone receptor assays. The project also aims to establish if consumption of marine mammals is the primary source of these compounds. Overall, the project will assess the risk of reintroducing California condors residing in Baja California by measuring endocrine disrupting chemicals in marine mammal carcasses collected from the coast of the upper Gulf of California.

Results of the project will be shared with wildlife managers, and could inform species management decisions, specifically regarding habitat selection. The project will also strengthen biomonitoring techniques, and inform decision makers about contaminants of concern in the coastal region.

Co-principal Investigators