" BES Project Abstracts 2005
Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2005 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts


Heavy Metal Variations in Residential Soil Communities Along an Urban to Rural Gradient
 
Wong, C., L. Murawski, R.V. Pouyat, K. Szlavecz, P. Marra, S. Lev, and R. Casey
 
Abstract: Densely populated cities, unlike rural communities, can be highly contaminated by heavy metals. Urban areas possess more pre-1940 (lead-painted) homes, contain congested roadways (source of historic lead gasoline, tire dust and break lining), and receive substantial amounts of atmospheric deposition. This study examined the distribution of heavy metals (Cr, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Cd and Pb) in residential soils and arthropods: i) regionally across an urban to rural landuse gradient and ii) locally within yard patches (front yard, backyard, proximity to road, and home). All residences resided in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. Metropolitan areas as part of the Neighborhood Nestwatch Program. Soil communities varied regionally with inner urban soils containing significantly higher metal concentrations then rural. However, only inner urban soil lead concentrations (248.33 218.24 ppm) were significantly higher then all other landuses (outer urban (62.96 36.71 ppm), suburban (42.06 34.62 ppm) and rural (23.88 24.75 ppm). Isopod heavy metal contents strongly correlated to all soil metal concentrations except for Cu and Cd while earthworms significantly correlated only to Pb. Urban ecosystems are more contaminated then rural environments and the high accumulation of heavy metals in urban arthropods could significantly affect top trophic level consumers (such as birds).