Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




Dr. Scott Petrie

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert Bailey

Third Advisor

Dr. Sheila Macfie


One hypothesis for the decline of the North American greater (Aythya marila) and lesser (A. affinis) scaup population is that contaminant loads acquired on wintering or staging areas are causing lethal or sub-lethal health effects, including impaired reproduction. I investigated whether the health of greater scaup wintering on Hamilton Harbour, Lake Ontario, is affected by elevated selenium (Se) concentrations. Greater scaup were analyzed for Se and other contaminants, and assessed for health and body condition. No relationship between Se concentration and fat or protein level was detected. Furthermore, no relationship between Se concentration and symptoms of Se toxicosis, including increased oxidative stress, was found. While Se concentrations were elevated in 99% of greater scaup wintering on western Lake Ontario, these burdens do not appear to be affecting birds in the measures of health that were assessed in this study.



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