SREL Reprint #0983




Long-Term Declines In Radiocesium of Two Sympatric Snake Populations

C. Bagshaw and I. L. Brisbin Jr



(1)   Operations of nuclear production reactors between 1961-70 on the Department of Energy Savannah River Plant near Aiken, South Carolina have resulted in releases of radiocesium into a reactor effluent stream and swamp ecosystem.  Determinations of whole-body burdens of radiocesium were made in 1971, 1976 and 1980 for Elaphe obsoleta and Nerodia taxispilota inhabiting this effluent stream and near-by uncontaminated habitats.

(2)   No difference could be detected in the overall rates at which average radiocesium body burdens decreased over time in the two snake species inhabiting the effluent stream.  However, while a linear model using natural-log transformed data adequately described this decrease in radiocesium body burden in Elaphe, such a linear model was not adequate to describe the decrease in Nerodia.  Radiocesium concentrations of both species in uncontaminated areas were as much as two orders of magnitude lower than those of snakes from the contaminated habitat.  The persistence of radiocesium in these snakes is discussed in terms of ecological half-lives.


SREL Reprint #0983

Bagshaw, C. and I.L. Brisbin Jr. 1984. Long-term declines in radiocesium of two sympatric snake populations. Journal of Applied Ecology 21:407-413.

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