Date of Award

8-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Wildlife and Fisheries Biology

Advisor

Dr. William W. Bowerman

Committee Member

Dr. William C. Bridges

Committee Member

Dr. Joseph D. Lanham

Committee Member

Dr. Webb M. Smathers

Abstract

The bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is an extensively researched tertiary predator. Its life history and the impact of various stressors on its reproductive outcomes have been documented in many studies, and over many years. Furthermore, the bald eagle population recovery in Michigan has been closely monitored since the 1960s, as it has continued to recover from a contaminant-induced bottleneck. Because of its position at the top of the aquatic food web and the large body of ethological knowledge, the bald eagle has become a sentinel species for the Michigan aquatic ecosystem. In April 1999, the Michigan Department of Environmental Qualtity, Water Division, began monitoring environmentally persistent and toxic contaminants in bald eagles. Continued monitoring of bald eagle population dynamics and contaminant levels in the environment are important to understanding the fate of sentinel species and ecosystems after exposure to environmental contaminants. It is therefore essential to develop sound methods of analysis to apply in reporting observations and in assessing trends based on these data. Specifically, this study assesses the Michigan Bald Eagle Biosentinel Program's (1) power to detect regionally elevated contaminant concentrations or assure remediation success; (2) various techniques for reporting central tendency in left-censored data using PCB and p,p'DDE contaminant concentrations; and the effects of model specification on inferential conclusions in regarding reproductive outcome as a function of site classification.

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