SREL Reprint #2369

 

 

 

ELEVATED TRACE ELEMENT CONCENTRATIONS AND STANDARD METABOLIC RATE IN BANDED WATER SNAKES (NERODIA FASCIATA) EXPOSED TO COAL COMBUSTION WASTES

 

WILLIAM A. HOPKINS,1,2 CHRISTOPHER L. ROWE,1,3 and JUSTIN D . CONGDON1

1Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Aiken, South Carolina 29902, USA
2Department of Zoology and Wildlife, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama 36949, USA
3Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico, PO Box 23360, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 00931

(Received 3 April 1998; Accepted 6 October 1998) 1998)

 

Abstract-Trace element concentrations in banded water snakes, Nerodia fasciata, and representative prey items from a site polluted by coal combustion wastes were compared with concentrations in conspecifics from a nearby reference site. Water snakes accumulated high concentrations of trace elements, especially arsenic (As) and selenium (Se), in the polluted habitat. In addition to being exposed to contaminants in water and sediments, snakes in the polluted site are exposed to contaminants by ingesting prey items that have elevated whole-body concentrations of trace elements, including As, cadmium (Cd), and Se. Snakes from the polluted site exhibited mean standard metabolic rates (SMR) 32% higher than snakes from the reference site. As a result, snakes from the polluted site appear to have elevated allocation of energy to maintenance and theoretically should have less energy available for growth, reproduction, and storage. Our findings are consistent with physiological responses recently documented in other organisms from the polluted site. We hypothesize that long-term exposure to coal ash-derived trace elements and the resultant accumulation of some elements are responsible for observed increases in SMR.

Keywords-Coal combustion wastes Snakes Trace elements Standard metabolic rate

SREL Reprint #2369

Hopkins, W.A., C.L. Rowe, and J.D. Congdon. 1999. Elevated trace element concentrations and standard metabolic rate in banded water snakes (nerodia fasciata) exposed to coal combustion wastes. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 18:1258-1263.

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