U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 146 (2017) 40–51.


U.S. government work.


Scoping studies were designed whereby double-crested cormorants (Phalacocorax auritus) were dosed with artificially weathered Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil either daily through oil injected feeder fish, or by application of oil directly to feathers every three days. Preening results in oil ingestion, and may be an effective means of orally dosing birds with toxicant to improve our understanding of the full range of physiological effects of oral oil ingestion on birds. Blood samples collected every 5–6 days were analyzed for a number of clinical endpoints including white blood cell (WBC) estimates and differential cell counts. Plasma biochemical evaluations were performed for changes associated with oil toxicity. Oral dosing and application of oil to feathers resulted in clinical signs and statistically significant changes in a number of biochemical endpoints consistent with petroleum exposure. In orally dosed birds there were statistically significant decreases in aspartate amino transferase (AST) and gamma glutamyl transferase (GGT) activities, calcium, chloride, cholesterol, glucose, and total protein concentrations, and increases in plasma urea, uric acid, and phosphorus concentrations. Plasma electrophoresis endpoints (pre-albumin, albumin, alpha-2 globulin, beta globulin, and gamma globulin concentrations and albumin: globulin ratios) were decreased in orally dosed birds. Birds with external oil had increases in urea, creatinine, uric acid, creatine kinase (CK), glutamate dehydrogenase (GLDH), phosphorus, calcium, chloride, potassium, albumin, alpha-1 globulin and alpha-2 globulin. Decreases were observed in AST, beta globulin and glucose. WBC also differed between treatments; however, this was in part driven by monocytosis present in the externally oiled birds prior to oil treatment.

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