European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) nestlings were used as a surrogate to study the effect of chlorpyrifos application to a corn agroecosystem on songbird reproduction. Chlorpyrifos was applied in a T-band at 1.3 kg AI/ha, and residues were measured in soil, earthworms, ground-dwelling insects, and diet items collected from the crop of starling nestlings. Chlorpyrifos levels in soil peaked at 34.21 μg/g, 4 days post-application, and dissipated to trace levels by 64 days post-application. Concentrations of chlorpyrifos in earthworms and ground-dwelling insects reached 0.9 and 0.7 μg/g, respectively. Starling nestling diet items included invertebrates from eight orders with chlorpyrifos concentrations ranging from trace levels to 10.6 μg/g in earthworms. Nestling brain and plasma cholinesterase (ChE) activity and body mass measurements were taken at 3, 8, and 13 days post-hatch (DPH). Adult starling fecundity was also measured. Body mass differences between treatment and reference site nestlings at 3 and 13 DPH were not significant at α = 0.05. However, 8 DPH nestlings from the Treatment Site had a transient reduction in weight (p = 0.03) when compared with 8 DPH reference nestlings. There were no significant differences in brain or plasma ChE activities of 3, 8, or 13 DPH nestlings. Further, multiple measures of fecundity (i.e., clutch size, hatching percentage, and fledging percentage) indicated that chlorpyrifos application did not affect starling nestling survival to fledging, as the values from the Treatment and Reference Site were nearly identical. This screening-level study suggests that although one age group of starling nestlings from the Treatment Site weighed less than their Reference Site counterparts, a single T-band application of chlorpyrifos did not impair starling nesting success.
- European starling
- Sturnus vulgaris