Date of Graduation

Fall 2010

Degree

Master of Science in Biology

Department

Biology

Committee Chair

Brian Greene

Keywords

Nerodia sipedon, heavy metals, reptiles toxicology, mining waste, growth rates and performance measures

Subject Categories

Biology

Abstract

Compared to other taxa, very little is known about reptile toxicology and the fitness effects that contaminants may cause. This study examines trace element concentrations, growth rates and performance measures in Northern Watersnakes, Nerodia sipedon when fed fish from a polluted mining-waste site or fish from non-contaminated sources. Fish collected from the mining-waste site contained significantly higher levels of As, Cd, Pb, and Zn than control fish. Over eight weeks, snakes were fed contaminated fish, non-contaminated control fish, or both. Snakes exposed to contaminated fish bioaccumulated Cd, Pb, and Zn relative to snakes on control diets. Snakes fed a contaminated diet exhibited significantly lower growth rates and mean sprint speeds, higher response latency, and longer righting response latency times than snakes fed a control diet. This study affirms other recent reports documenting sublethal effects of contaminants in snake populations. Further studies on performance effects are needed to enhance the understanding of heavy-metal contamination effects in reptiles. KEYWORDS: Nerodia sipedon, heavy metals, reptiles toxicology, mining waste, growth rates and, performance measures

Copyright

© Maria Dawn Fatemi

Campus Only

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