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Tuesday, January 30 • 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Poster Display. Utilizing Non-invasive Techniques to Measure Mercury (Hg) Concentrations in Endangered, Adult Blanding's Turtles (Emydoidea blandingii) in Northeastern Illinois

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AUTHORS: Timothy Benjamin, Benedictine University; Rebecka Brasso, Southeast Missouri State University; Dan Thompson, Forest Preserve District of DuPage County; Leigh Anne Harden, Benedictine University

ABSTRACT: Mercury (Hg) is a highly toxic pollutant that is bioaccumulative and hazardous to humans and wildlife. Hg effects on reproduction are well-documented in fish, amphibians, birds, and mammals. Reptiles, specifically aquatic turtles, are good bioindicators of ecosystem health because many species are long-lived and occupy high trophic positions, which allows Hg to bioaccumulate and biomagnifies in food webs. We employed the non-invasive sampling technique of using toenails to measure Hg concentrations in adult Blanding’s turtles (Emydoidea blandingii), an endangered species endemic to Midwestern prairie wetlands. We collected toenail samples from gravid female and male Blanding’s turtles from four wetland sites throughout the Greater Chicago metropolitan area (GCMA) of northeast, IL. Hg concentrations ranged from 311 to 3132 ppb, and were generally lower than Hg levels in reptiles (e.g. turtles) from other studies, suggesting Blanding’s turtles in this region are not exposed to high ecosystem levels of Hg. There was also no significant effect of site or body size (i.e. carapace length) on Hg concentrations of gravid females. This is the first study to document Hg concentrations in Emydoidea blandingii, and although concentrations were at background levels, they can serve as a reference for various Hg studies in northeast IL wetlands and for future studies on Blanding’s, ultimately adding to the body of knowledge on this endangered species.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Ballroom C & Foyer

Attendees (7)