The cause of the yearly death of an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 migrating dabbling ducks (Anas spp.) and 10 to 50 swans (Cygnus buccinator and C. columbianus) has remained a mystery for the last ten years in Eagle River Flats (ERF), a 1,000 ha estuarine salt marsh near Anchorage, Alaska, used for artillery training by the U.S. Army. We have gathered evidence that the cause of this mortality is the highly toxic, incendiary munition white phosphorus (P4). The symptoms of poisoning we observed in wild ducks included lethargy, repeated drinking, and head shaking and rolling. Death was preceded by convulsions. Farm-reared mallards dosed with white phosphorus showed nearly identical behavioral symptoms to those of wild ducks that became sick in ERF. White phosphorus does not occur in nature but was found in both the sediments where dabbling ducks and swans feed and in the gizzards of all carcasses collected in ERF. We hypothesize that feeding waterfowl are ingesting small particles of the highly toxic, incendiary munition P4 stored in the bottom anoxic sediments of shallow salt marsh ponds.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.