SREL Reprint #0332




Radionuclide Biomagnification in Coastal-Plain Deer

James H. Jenkins and Timothy T. Fendley



Muscle samples have been obtained from over 1000 deer throughout the Southeast during the past five years and analyzed for radionuclides.  Deer from the Lower Coastal Plain region had consistently higher levels of 137Cs than deer from the Upper Coastal Plain, Piedmont, Central Plateau, and Mountain regions.  In the Lower Coastal Plain, deer muscle average 45, 000 pCi/kg of 137Cs, with some specimens ranging up to over 150,000 pCi/kg.  Animals from the other provinces averaged around 4000 pCi/kg.  We have evidence that 90Sr is effectively transported through the Lower Coastal Plain environment also.  Strontium values in deer were comparable to the values found in Arctic herbivores, while the 137Cs values are higher than were found in the Arctic.  Potassium deficiency in vegetation probably increases radionuclide bioaccumulation.  Cropland vegetation is 20 times higher in potassium and has only 1 to 3% as much radioactive cesium as forest and swampland vegetation.  Bioaccumulation in wildlife may well become a classic example of radionuclide cycling.  Our data indicate that the sterile, sandy soils of the Lower Coastal Plain in combination with high water tables and some specific radionuclide-concentrating plants produce the conditions which result in biomagnification of 137Cs and 90Sr in deer.


SREL Reprint #0332

Jenkins, J.H. and T.T. Fendley. 1971. Radionuclide biomagnification in coastal plain deer. p. 116-122. In Third National Symposium on Radioecology, edited by D.J. Nelson. ORNL CONF 710501 P1. Oak Ridge, TN.

To request a reprint