Overview of Ecotoxicology for Birds
Birds and other organisms face a wide range of stressors and threats, operating at different time scales and at different points in the life cycle. These include habitat loss and human disturbance, predators and competitors, weather variables and climate change, and contaminants (Figure 8.1). In most cases, these stressors interact; some mitigate the effects of others, whereas others enhance the effects. For example, severe storms that occur when food is already in short supply leads to increased reproductive losses. On the other hand, increased predation can reduce competition with neighbors because of decreases in density of nesting or foraging birds. Examining how stressors act alone or interact together is critical for conserving or managing populations. Understanding the role of metals and other contaminants in the environment, and in the health and well-being of organisms requires placing ecotoxicology and toxicodynamics within a framework of the biology and ecology of organisms.