The use of small mammals as indicators of heavy metal bioavailability in a contaminated riparian zone
Reinhart, Bradley David
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Elemental composition of kidney, liver, and muscle tissue from a common small mammal, the cotton mouse (Peromyscus gossypinus), was determined in an ecosystem contaminated with Ni and U at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site, Aiken, SC. Independent factors, such as season, sex, trap site, and the interactions between these factors, were used in assessing metal burden. The use of stable isotopes allowed characterization of the trophic structure within the small mammal community. However, for the six species captured, no relationship was found between trophic level and metal contamination. Season was the only significant factor to play a significant role in metal contamination. In every case, specimens captured in the fall had higher tissue metal concentrations. Levels of U in the species we collected were similar in concentration to small mammals captured in studies further upstream while Ni levels were observed to be lower than those observed in the same studies.