Red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus; blackbird) and European starling (Sturnus vulgaris; starling) nestlings were dosed with either 2.0 mg/kg body mass chlorpyrifos, 50.0 mg/kg body mass dimethoate, or a propylene glycol carrier in situ. Four growth measurements (body mass, culmen, tarsus, wing) were recorded from nestlings to determine if these organophosphorus compounds caused perturbations in development at sublethal concentrations. Blackbird nestlings were more sensitive to chlorpyrifos than starling nestlings were more sensitive to dimethoate than blackbird nestlings. This was in contrast to reported adult LD50 values where the reverse was true. Blackbird nestlings were more tolerant of a substantially higher concentration of dimethoate than the adult LD50. The sensitivity of starling nestlings to dimethoate was similar to adults. In contrast, juveniles of both species were more sensitive to chlorpyrifos than adults. After the initial 24 hr, surviving nestlings dosed with either chemical recovered and continued their development. Exposure to dimethoate caused significant depression in starling body mass during the initial 24 hr period. Survivors obtain body mass equal to controls within 48 hr post dosing. The research presented here demonstrates that the simple supposition that passerine nestlings are typically more sensitive to toxins than adults does not always hold true. It also indicates that sensitivity relationships among adults do not necessarily apply to their nestlings.
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