Organochlorine Insecticide Residues in the Free-Tailed Bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) at Bracken Cave, Texas


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May 1975


Fifty-nine free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis mexicana) were collected at Bracken Cave, Texas, and analyzed for organochlorine insecticides and polyehiorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Residues of DDE in the brain were greater in 12 young collected from the floor than in 15 young taken from the ceiling, but food deprivation, not higher residues in the brain, apparently caused young to fall. Among 18 pregnant females, residues of DDE and DDT were highest in yearlings. The first lactation by yearlings caused their residue loads to drop sharply. Thereafter, increasing age was accompanied by increasing residues but amounts generally did not exceed those in yearlings. Residue levels in embryos were a function both of levels in the female parent and degree of embryonic development. Residues accumulated rapidly in nursing young, and lactating females may excrete from 1.3 to 16.2 (mean = 4.3) micrograms of DDE in milk per day. Maximum individual residue loads may be attained toward the end of nursing, and mobilization of these residues during southward migration may subject Bracken Cave free-tails to maximum lifetime residues in the brain. Comparison of our data with residue data for the free-tail population at Eagle Creek Cave (Arizona) in 1970 produced the following conclusions: (1) residues of DDE appeared similar in pregnant females, embryos, lactating females, and fallen young for the two populations; (2) residues of DDT and dieldrin appeared greater in pregnant females at Bracken Cave; (3) DDE and DDT occurred at greater levels in guano samples from Bracken Cave. On this basis, the population decline observed at Eagle Creek Cave between 1963 and 1969 does not appear to be related to the residues observed in the 1970 samples taken from that cave.


Organochlorine Insecticide, Free-Tailed Bat, Tadarida Brasiliensis, Bracken Cave

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Journal of Mammalogy, Vol. 56, no. 2 (1975-05-30).