" BES Project Abstracts 2006
Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2006 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons affect survival and development of common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) embryos and hatchlings
Van Meter, Robin
Co-Authors: Robin J. Van Meter, James R. Spotila and Harold W. Avery
Abstract: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are well-documented mutagenic compounds and are found in the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We assessed the effects of exposure to 2 PAHs and 1 PAH mixture, benzo(a)pyrene (BaP), 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA), and petroleum crude oil respectively, on the embryonic development of snapping turtles from both contaminated and clean reference sites. We exposed the embryos to the contaminant at stage 9 of development and allowed incubation to continue until the embryo died or hatched. Embryos and hatchlings were classified by the severity of deformities. Severity of deformity classifications were none, minor, moderate, and lethal. We further tested hatchlings that developed normally or with only minor deformities for righting response and critical thermal maximum (CTM). Exposure to contaminants had a significant effect on survival rates in embryos from one clean reference site, but not in embryos from other sites. There was a positive linear relationship between the level of exposure to contaminants and the severity of deformities in the snapping turtle embryos collected from 2 of the clean reference sites. Neither righting response nor critical thermal maximum of snapping turtle hatchlings was significantly affected by exposure to PAHs. Exposure to PAHs does negatively impact the development of snapping turtle embryos and should be taken into consideration in future management, disposal, and restoration strategies.