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Pollutants shape baby-gator gonads

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6:36am, November 5, 2003

From New Orleans, at the e.hormone 2003 Conference

Over the past decade, comparisons of alligators from two Florida lakes–the relatively pristine Woodruff and the pesticide-laden Apopka–have turned up numerous reproductive impairments in the Apopka animals. Low hatching rates, abnormal sex-hormone concentrations, perturbed egg production, and shorter-than-usual penises, are among the effects observed over the years (SN: 7/15/95, p. 44).

These impacts in Lake Apopka's animals had been chronicled only in adolescent and adult gators. Biologists at the University of Florida in Gainesville wanted to see whether the changes occur even in baby gators. So, Teresa Bryan and her coworkers collected 150 alligator eggs from nests on Lake Woodruff and incubated many of them in water laced with nine hormone-mimicking pesticides typical of Lake Apopka. Those include DDT, dieldrin, toxaphene, heptachlor, and alpha-chlordane.

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