Historical and Other Patterns of Monomethyl and Inorganic Mercury in the Florida Panther (Puma concolor coryi)

  • J. Newman
  • E. Zillioux
  • E. Rich
  • L. Liang
  • C. Newman
Article

Abstract

Since the late 1980s, elevated levels of mercury have been reported in the tissues of the Florida panther (Puma concolorcoryi) from the Florida Everglades. The extent, degree, and length of time of mercury contamination in the Florida panther are unknown. The objective of this study was to determine the historical and other patterns of monomethyl and inorganic mercury in the Florida panther by analysis of mercury in panther hair from museum collections. In addition, this study evaluated the effects of preservation of skins on mercury concentrations in hair and the representativeness of museum collections for evaluating historical trends of contamination in the Florida panther. Hair from 42 Florida panther specimens collected from 1896 to 1995 was analyzed for both monomethyl and inorganic mercury. Monomethyl mercury (MMHg) and inorganic mercury (IHg) were found in all specimens. Monomethyl mercury in hair from untanned skins was significantly higher than MMHg in hair from tanned skins. For untanned specimens, the mean MMHg concentration in hair was 1.62 ± 1.87 μg/g (range 0.11 to 6.68 μg/g, n = 16). Monomethyl mercury accounted for 88% of the total mercury in untanned Florida panther hair. No sexual or geographical differences were found. Although MMHg is generally stable in hair, the tanning process appears to reduce the amount of MMHg in hair. In addition, exogenous IHg contamination of the panther hair was found in museum specimens, especially in older specimens. The implication of these and other factors in interpreting results of museum studies is discussed. The presence of MMHg in panther hair since the 1890s indicates long-term and widespread exposure of the Florida panther to mercury. Levels of MMHg are significantly greater in the 1990s than the 1890s. When combined with field studies of mercury in the Florida panther, considerable individual variability is observed, reflecting short-term changes in exposure of individual panthers to mercury. Although museum specimens showed a significant increase in MMHg over the last 100 years, they did not show the magnitude of increase that field populations of Florida panthers did. A number of Florida panthers appeared to be at risk from mercury over their lifetimes, especially individuals from the early 1990s.

References

  1. Anderson RM (1965) Methods of collecting and preserving vertebrate animals. Dept. of the Secretary of State, Natl. Mus. of Canada, Bull. No. 69, Biol. Ser. No. 18Google Scholar
  2. Bangs, O 1899The Florida pantherProc Biol Soc Washington131517Google Scholar
  3. Berg, W, Johnels, A, Sjöstrand, B, Westermark, T 1966Mercury content in feathers of Swedish birds from the past 100 yearsOikos177183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Burger, J 1993Metals in avian feathers: bioindicators of environmental pollutionRev Environ Toxicol5203311Google Scholar
  5. Cernichiari, E Toribara, T Liang, L Marsh, D Berlin, M Myers, G Cox, C Shamlaye, C ChoisyDavidson, P, Clarkson, T 1995Biological monitoring of mercury in the Seychelles studyNeuroToxicology16613628Google Scholar
  6. Cumbie, M 1975Mercury levels in Georgia otter, mink, and freshwater fishBull Environ Contam Toxicol14193196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dalrymple, GH, Bass, OL,Jr. 1996The diet of the Florida panther in Everglades National Park, FloridaBull Florida Mus Nat Hist39173193Google Scholar
  8. Driver, EA, Derksen, AJ 1980Mercury levels in waterfowl from Manitoba, Canada, 1971–72Pestic Monit J1495101Google Scholar
  9. Eaton, RDP, Secord, DC, Hewitt, P 1980An experimental assessment on the toxic potential of mercury in ringed seal liver for adult laboratory catsToxicol Appl Pharmacol55514521CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Eisler, R 1987Mercury hazards to fish, wildlife, and invertebrates: a synoptic reviewUS Fish and Wildl Serv Biol Rep85110Google Scholar
  11. Evans, RD, Addison, EM, Villeneuve, JY, Joachim, KS, Joachim, DG 1998An examination of spatial variation in mercury concentrations in the otter (Lutra canadensis) in south-central OntarioSci Total Environ213239245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Forrester, DJ 1992Parasites and disease of wild mammals in FloridaUniversity of Florida PressGainesville, FloridaGoogle Scholar
  13. Fortin, C, Beauchamp, G, Dansereau, M, Lariviere, N, Balenger, D 2001Spatial variation in mercury concentrations in wild mink and river otter carcasses from the James Bay Territory, Quebec, CanadaArch Environ Contam Toxicol40121127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jenkins DW (1980) Biological monitoring of toxic trace metals. Volume 1, biological monitoring and surveillance. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 600/3-80-091Google Scholar
  15. Liang, L, Bloom, NS, Horvat, M 1994aSimultaneous determination of mercury speciation in biological materials by GC/CVAFS after ethylation and room-temperature precollectionClin Chem40602607Google Scholar
  16. Liang, L, Horvat, M, Bloom, N 1994bAn improved speciation method for mercury by GC/CVAFS after aqueous phase methylation and room temperature precollectionTalanta41371379CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Maehr, DS 1997The Florida panther, life and death of a vanishing carnivoreIsland PressWashington, D.CGoogle Scholar
  18. Porcella, DB, Zillioux, EJ, Grieb, TM, Newman, JR, West, GB 2004Retrospective study of mercury in raccoons (Procyon lotor) in South FloridaEcotoxicology13207221CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. RMB Consulting & Research, Inc (2002) Atmospheric mercury emissions from major point sources—Broward, Dade, and Palm Beach Counties, 1980–2000, draft final report. In: Florida Department of Environmental Protection (October 2002, revised November 2003) Integrating Atmospheric Mercury deposition with Aquatic Cycling in South Florida. FDEP, Tallahassee, Florida, 95 pp and appendicesGoogle Scholar
  20. Roelke ME (1991) Florida panther biomedical studies, 1 July 1990–30 June 1991. Annual performance report, Statewide Wildlife Research. Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Comm., Gainesville, Florida. Study No. 7506, Federal No. E-1 II-E-6Google Scholar
  21. Roelke ME, Schultz DP, Facemire CF, Sundlof SF, Royals HE (1991) Mercury contamination in Florida panthers. A report of the Florida Panther Technical Subcommittee to the Florida Panther Interagency Committee. Tallahassee, FloridaGoogle Scholar
  22. Ruhling, A, Tyler, G 2001Changes in atmospheric deposition rates of heavy metals in SwedenWater, Air Soil Pollution: Focus1311323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Scheuhammer, AM 1991Effects of acidification on the availability of toxic metals and calcium to wild birds and mammalsEnviron Pollut71329375CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Technical Subcommittee of the Florida Panther Interagency Committee (1989) Status report mercury contamination in Florida panthers. Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, Florida Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service, Tallahassee, FloridaGoogle Scholar
  25. Thompson, DR, Furness, RW, Walsh, PM 1992Historical changes in mercury concentrations with marine ecosystem of the north and northeast Atlantic Ocean as indicated by seabird feathersJ Appl Ecol297984CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. US Fish and Wildlife Service (1999) Multi-species recovery plan: South Florida. US Fish and Wildlife Service, Southeast Region, pp 4–117Google Scholar
  27. Vermeer, K, Armstrong, FAJ 1972Correlation between mercury in wings and breast muscles in ducksJ Wildl Manage3712701273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Wren, CD 1986A review of metal contamination and toxicity in wild mammalsI. Mercury. Environ Res40210244CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Newman
    • 1
  • E. Zillioux
    • 2
  • E. Rich
    • 3
  • L. Liang
    • 4
  • C. Newman
    • 1
  1. 1.Pandion Systems, Inc.GainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Florida Power & Light CompanyJuno BeachUSA
  3. 3.University of MiamiMiamiUSA
  4. 4.CEBAM Analytical, Inc.North SeattleUSA

Personalised recommendations