Using Non-destructive Techniques to Measure Mercury (Hg) Concentrations in Gravid Blanding’s Turtles (Emydoidea blandingii) in Northeastern Illinois

  • Timothy Benjamin
  • Rebecka Brasso
  • Stephen Midway
  • Dan Thompson
  • Leigh Anne Harden


Aquatic turtles are suitable biomonitors of wetland ecosystem health because they are long-lived and occupy elevated trophic positions in wetland food webs. This study aimed to determine Hg exposure in adult Blanding’s turtles (Emydoidea blandingii), an imperiled prairie-wetland species endemic to the northern U.S. and southern Canada. Claw samples were collected from gravid females from four wetland sites in northeast Illinois. Claw Hg concentrations ranged from 654 to 3132 ng/g and we found no effect of body size (carapace length, CL) and some evidence for an effect of wetland site (WS) on mean Hg (i.e. weak effect of site on Hg, detected between WS1 and WS3). Claw Hg concentrations reported in this study were lower than claw concentrations published for other freshwater turtles (e.g. Chelydra serpentina, Sternotherus oderatus). This is the first Hg-related study on Blanding’s turtles and can serve as a reference for other Hg studies in Illinois wetlands.


Mercury Wetlands Emydoidea blandingii Non-lethal tissue sampling Biomonitor Toenail 



We thank the following for field assistance: Benedictine University Lab members A. Karwowska, S. Shahjahan, Loyola University Chicago (LUC) Lab members J. Milanovich, A. Cann, A. Muñoz, I. Lentini, and The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County (FPDDC). The work was conducted under Illinois Department of Natural Resource (IDNR) Scientific Permit (NH16.5785), IDNR Owned or Managed Site Permit (SS16-037), IDNR Permit for Possession of Endangered or Threatened Species (16-061SBT), a FPDDC Research Permit (16-16), and was conducted under LUC IACUC Protocol no. 82. All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesBenedictine UniversityLisleUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologySoutheast Missouri State UniversityCape GirardeauUSA
  3. 3.Department of Oceanography and Coastal SciencesLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA
  4. 4.The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, Office of Natural Resources – EcologyWheatonUSA

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