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Organohalogen contaminant concentrations in diamondback terrapins from Barnegat Bay, New Jersey



Jennifer M. Lynch, Emily Basile, Harold Avery


The northern diamondback terrapin’s (Malaclemys terrapin) wide geographic distribution, existence in a variety of habitats within the saltmarsh ecosystem, predatory foraging behavior and site fidelity make it an excellent indicator species for contaminant monitoring in the estuarine ecosystem. In this study fat biopsies and plasma samples were collected from males and females from two sites within Barnegat Bay, New Jersey, as well as tissues from a gravid female and blue mussels, which are terrapin prey. Samples were analyzed for persistent organic pollutants (POPs), including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and chlorinated pesticides, such as 4,4’-DDE, oxychlordane, hexachlorobenzene, dieldrin, and mirex, as well as methyl-triclosan. Terrapins from the northern site, Spizzle Creek, closest to industrial and urban areas, had higher concentrations than from Forsythe Refuge for both tissues. Sex differences were also observed with males having higher concentrations in fat and females in plasma. PCB patterns in terrapin fat and plasma were comparable to other wildlife samples as well as other turtle species. The PBDE pattern was unique and was dominated by PBDEs 153 and 100 instead of PBDE 47 and 99, which has been documented in only a few other turtle species. The typical PBDE pattern measured in mussels, terrapin prey, suggests that the terrapin may efficiently biotransform or eliminate PBDE 47 and possibly PBDE 99. Plasma contaminant concentrations significantly correlated with those in fat. This study addresses several aspects of using the terrapin as an indicator species for POP monitoring: site and sex differences, tissue sampling choices, maternal transfer, and biomagnification.
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry


reptile, turtle, PCB, brominated flame retardant, chlorinated pesticides, indicator species, monitoring, maternal transfer


Lynch, J. , Basile, E. and Avery, H. (2011), Organohalogen contaminant concentrations in diamondback terrapins from Barnegat Bay, New Jersey, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (Accessed April 20, 2024)
Created November 30, 2011, Updated February 19, 2017