Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 225–244 | Cite as

Reptiles and Amphibians: Shy and Sensitive Vertebrates of the Great Lakes Basin and St. Lawrence River

  • Christine A. Bishop
  • Andrée D. Gendron
Article

Abstract

Bioaccumulation of environmental contaminants has been documented in amphibians and reptiles inhabiting the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River and elsewhere. The effects of pollutants on the physiology and reproduction of amphibians and reptiles has also been reported but this research has largely been restricted to laboratory studies. Much less work has been conducted to quantify the effects of toxic chemical exposures on these cryptic animals in the wild. In the Great Lakes basin and St. Lawrence River, this work has only been performed in detail since 1981 although some samples collected in 1974 indicated a high level of contamination. Results in the 1990s on aquatic salamanders, frogs and turtles indicate that adults and embryos are currently experiencing toxic effects and, in some species and locations, there are indications that population declines are influenced by environmental pollution exposure. In this review, we describe the existing literature on contaminant levels and effects in reptiles and amphibians of the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes basin.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Ahlborg, U.G., Becking, G.C., Birnbaum, L.S., Brouwer, A., Derks, H.J.G.M., Feeley, M., Golog, G., Hanberg, A., Larsen, J.C., Liem, A.K.D., Safe, S.H., Schlatter, C., Waern, F., Younes, M., Yrjanheikki, E.: 1994, ‘Toxic Equivalency Factors for Dioxin-like PCBs’, Chemosphere 28, 1049–1067.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alexander, M.: 1943, ‘Food Habits of the Snapping Turtle in Connecticut’, J. Wildl. Mgmt. 7, 278–282.Google Scholar
  3. Beasley, V., Faeh, S., Wikoff, B., Eisold, J., Nichols, D., Brown, L., and Greenwell, M.: 1995, ‘Evidence for a Potential Role of Pesticides in Population Declines of the Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans)’, Annual Meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicologists and Chemists, Vancouver, British Columbia, 5–9 Nov 1995.Google Scholar
  4. Bishop, C.A.: 1990, ‘The Snapping Turtle (Chelydra s. serpentina) as an Indicator of Organochlorine Contamination in Wetlands’, MSc thesis, York University, Toronto, Ontario, 135 pp.Google Scholar
  5. Bishop, C.A., Brooks, R.J., Carey, J.H., Ng, P., Norstrom, R.J., and Lean D.R.S.: 1991, ‘The Case for a Cause-Effect Linkage Between Environmental Contamination and Development in Eggs of the Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) from Ontario, Canada’, J. Toxicol. Environ. Health 33, 512–547.Google Scholar
  6. Bishop, C.A. and Pettit, K.E.: 1992, ‘Declines in Canadian Amphibian Populations: Designing a National Monitoring Strategy’, Occasional Paper No. 76, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, 120 pp.Google Scholar
  7. Bishop, C.A., Weseloh, D.V., Burgess, N.B., Norstrom, R.J., Turle, R., and Logan K.A.: 1992, ‘An Atlas of Contaminants in Eggs of Colonial Fish-Eating Birds of the Great Lakes (1970–1988): Volume 1: Accounts by Location’, Technical Report No. 152, Canadian Wildlife Service Ontario Region, Burlington, Ontario, 540 pp.Google Scholar
  8. Bishop, C.A., Weseloh, D.V., Burgess, N.M., Struger, J., Norstrom, R.J., Turle, R., and Logan, K.A.: 1992a, ‘An Atlas of Contaminants in Eggs of Fish-Eating Colonial Birds of the Great Lakes (1970–1988): Volume I’, Technical Report Series No. 152, Canadian Wildlife Service Ontario Region, Burlington, Ontario, 279 pp.Google Scholar
  9. Bishop, C.A., Weseloh, D.V., Burgess, N.M., Struger, J., Norstrom, R.J., Turle, R., and Logan, K.A.: 1992b, ‘An Atlas of Contaminants in Eggs of Fish-Eating Coloniol Birds of the Great Lakes (1970–1988): Volume II’, Technical Report Series No. 153, Canadian Wildlife Service Ontario Region, Burlington, Ontario, 315 pp.Google Scholar
  10. Bishop, C.A., Brown, G.P., Brooks, R.J., Lean, D.R.S., and Carey, J.H.: 1994, ‘Organochlorine Contaminant Concentrations in Eggs and their Relationship to Body Size, and Clutch Characteristics of the Female Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina serpentina) in Lake Ontario, Canada’, Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 27, 82–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bishop, C.A., Ng, P., Norstrom, R.J., Brooks, R.J., and Pettit, K.E.: 1996, ‘Temporal and Geographic Variation of Organochlorine Residues in Eggs of the Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina serpentina) (1981–1991) and Comparisons to Trends in the Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) in the Great Lakes Basin in Ontario, Canada’, Archiv. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 31, 512–524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bishop, C.A., Ng, P., Brooks, R.J., Kennedy, S., Stegeman, J.J., and Norstrom, R.J.: 1998, ‘Environmental contamination and developmental abnormalities in eggs and hatchlings of the common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina serpentina) from the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River basin (1989–91)’, Environ. Poll. 99,1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bonin, J., DesGranges, J.-L., Bishop, C.A., Rodrigue, J., Gendron, A., and Elliott, J.E.: 1995, ‘Comparative Study of Contaminants in the Mudpuppy (Amphibia) and Common Snapping Turtle (Reptilia), St. Lawrence River, Canada’, Archiv. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 28, 184–194.Google Scholar
  14. Brooks, R.J., Galbraith, D.A., Nancekivell, E.G., and Bishop, C.A.: 1988, ‘Developing Management Guidelines for Snapping Turtles’, In: Szaro, R.C., Severson, K.E., and Patton, D.R. (eds) Management of Amphibians, Reptiles, and Small Mammals in North America’, USDA Forest Service Technical Report RM-166, pp 174–179.Google Scholar
  15. Burton, T.M. and Likens, G.F.: 1975, ‘Salamander Populations and Biomass in the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest’, Copeia 1975, 541–546.Google Scholar
  16. Campbell, C. 1974. ‘Reproduction and Ecology of Turtles and other Reptiles and Amphibians of Lakes Erie and St. Clair in Relation to Toxic Chemicals’, Report to Canadian Wildlife Service, Contract 7475/022.Google Scholar
  17. Carey, C.: 1993, ‘Hypothesis Concerning the Disappearance of Boreal Toads from the Mountains of Colorado’, Cons. Biol. 7, 355–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chandler, J.H. and Marking, L.L.: 1975, ‘Toxicity of the Lampricide 3-Trifluoromethyl-4-nitrophenol (TFM) to Selected Aquatic Invertebrates and Frog Larvae’, Invest. Fish Control 62, 1–7.Google Scholar
  19. Colborn, R., vom Saal, F.S., and Soto, A.M. 1993.: ‘Developmental Effects of Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals in Wildlife and Humans’, Environ. Health Perspect. 101, 378–384.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Conant, R. and Collins, J.T.: 1991, ‘A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians’, 3rd edition, Houghton-Mifflin, Boston, Massachusetts, 450 pp.Google Scholar
  21. Cooke, A.S.: 1970, ‘The Effects of p,p′-DDT on Tadpoles of the Common Frog (Rana temporaria)’, Environ. Pollut. 1, 57–71.Google Scholar
  22. Cooke, A.S.: 1973, ‘Responses of Rana temporaria Tadpoles to Chronic Doses of p,p′-DDT’, Copeia. 1973, 647–652.Google Scholar
  23. Dept. Pathology.: 1985, ‘Necropsy No. W 253–85’, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario.Google Scholar
  24. Envirosearch.: 1988, ‘Windermere Basin Rehabilitation Project: Initial Assessment for the Partial Dredging and Filling of Windermere Basin,’ p. 12, 21.Google Scholar
  25. Fox, G.A., Collins, B., Hayadawa, E., Weseloh, D.V., Ludwig, J.P., Kubiak, T.J., Erdman, T.C.: 1991, ‘Reproductive outcomes in colonial fish-eating birds: a biomarker for developmental toxicants in Great Lakes food chains. II. Spatial variation in the occurrence and prevalence of bill defects in young double-crested cormorants in the Great Lakes, 1979–1987’, J. Great Lakes Res. 17, 158–167.Google Scholar
  26. Galbraith, D.A., Brooks, R.J.: 1987, ‘Survivorship of Adult Females in a Northern Population of Snapping Turtles (Chelydra serpentina)’, Can. J. Zool. 65, 1581–1586.Google Scholar
  27. Gendron, A.D., Bishop, C.A., Van Der Kraak, G., Fortin, R., and Hontela, A.: 1994, ‘Multi-Level Detection of Toxic Stress in the Mudpuppy (Amphibian, Salamander)’, Annual Meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicologists and Chemists, Denver, Colorado, 30 Oct–4 Nov 1994.Google Scholar
  28. Gendron, A.D., Bishop, C.A., Fortin, R., and Hontela, A.: 1997, ‘In vivo testing of the functional integrity of the corticosterone-producing axis in mudpuppy (Amphibia) exposed to chlorinated hydrocarbons in the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers’, Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 16, 1694–1706.Google Scholar
  29. Gilderhus, P.A. and Johnson, B.G.H.: 1980, ‘Effects of Sea Lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) Control in the Great Lakes on Aquatic Plants. Invertebrates, and Amphibians’, Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 37, 1895–1905.Google Scholar
  30. Guillette, L.J., Gross, T.S., Masson, G.R., Matter, J.M., Percival, H.F., and Woodward, A.R.: 1994, ‘Developmental Abnormalities of the Gonad and Abnormal Sex Hormone Concentrations in Juvenile Alligators from Contaminated and Control Lakes in Florida’, Env. Health Persp. 102, 680–688.Google Scholar
  31. Guillette, L.J., Pickford, D.B., Crain, D.A., Rooney, A.A., Percival, H.F.: 1996, ‘Reduction in Penis Size and Plasma Testosterone Concentrations in Juvenile Alligators Living in a Contaminated Environment’, Gen. Comp. Endocrin. 101, 33–42.Google Scholar
  32. Hall, R.J.: 1980, ‘Effects of Environmental Contaminants on Reptiles: a Review’, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Scientific Report — Wildlife No. 228, United States Dept. of the Interior, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  33. Hall, R.J., and Henry, P.F.P.: 1992, ‘Review: Assessing Effects of Pesticides on Amphibians and Reptiles: Status and Needs’, Herpetological J. 2, 65–71.Google Scholar
  34. Harfenist, A., Power, T., Clark, K.L. and Peakall, D.B.: 1989, ‘A Review and Evaluation of the Amphibian Toxicological Literature’, Technical Report Series No. 61, Canadian Wildlife Service Ontario Region, Ottawa, Ontario, 222 pp.Google Scholar
  35. Hebert, C.E., Bishop, C.A., and Weseloh, D.V., 1993a, ‘Evaluation of Wetland Biomonitors for the Great Lakes: a Review of Contaminant Levels and Effects in Five Vertebrate Classes’, Technical Report Series No. 182, Canadian Wildlife Service Ontario Region, Burlington, Ontario, 103 pp.Google Scholar
  36. Hebert, C.E., Glooshenko, V., Haffner, G.D., and Lazar, R.: 1993b, ‘Organic Contaminants in Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) Populations from Southern Ontario, Canada’, Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 24, 35–43.Google Scholar
  37. Jung, R.E., Karasov, W.H., Huang, Y.-W., and Kersten, S.M.: 1996, ‘Amphibian Ecotoxicology in Green Bay, Wisconsin: Are Toxicants Influencing Amphibian Distributions?’, Abstracts of Great Lakes Declining Amphibian Conference. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 30 March 1996.Google Scholar
  38. Jung, R.E., and Walker, M.K.: 1997, ‘Effects of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) on Development of Anuran Amphibians’. Environ. Chem. Toxicol. 16, 230–240.Google Scholar
  39. Kennedy, S.W., Lorenzen, A., Norstorm, R.J.: 1996, ‘Chicken Embryo Heptacyte Bioassay for Measuring Cytochrome P4501A-based 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin Equivalent Concentrations in Environmental Samples’. Environ. Sci. Tech. 30, 706–715.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lovisek, J.: 1982, ‘Survey of Harvesting of Turtles in Ontario’, Wildlife Branch, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Queen's Park, Toronto, Ontario.Google Scholar
  41. Matson, T.O.: 1990, ‘Estimation of Numbers for a Riverine Necturus Population Before and After TFM Lampricide Exposure’, Kirtlandia 45, 33–38.Google Scholar
  42. Meyers-Schöne L. and Walton, B.T.: 1994, ‘Turtles as Monitors of Chemical Contaminants in the Environment’, Rev. Environ. Contam. Toxicol. 135, 93–153.Google Scholar
  43. Mossman, M.J. and Hine, R.L.: 1985, ‘Wisconsin's Frog and Toad Survey, 1984’, Wisconsin Endangered Resources Report 16, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Endangered Resources, Madison, Wisconsin.Google Scholar
  44. Olafsson, P.G., Bryan, A.M., Bush, B., and Stone, W.: 1983, ‘Snapping Turtles — a Biological Screen for PCBs’, Chemosphere 12, 1525–1532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Oldham, M.J.: 1992, ‘Declines in Blanchard's Cricket Frog in Ontario’, In: Bishop, C.A. and Pettit, K.E. (eds) Declines in Canadian Amphibian Populations: Designing a National Monitoring Strategy, Occasional Paper No. 76, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, Ottawa, pp 30–31.Google Scholar
  46. Ontario Research Foundation. 1975. Laboratory Report 75-4. Missisauga, Ontario.Google Scholar
  47. Pettit, K.E., Bishop, C.A., Weseloh, D.V., and Norstrom R.J.: 1994, ‘An Atlas of Contaminants in Eggs of Colonial Fish-Eating Birds of the Great Lakes (1989–1992): Volume I: Accounts by Location’, Technical Report No. 193, Canadian Wildlife Service Ontario Region, Burlington, Ontario, 400 pp.Google Scholar
  48. Pfingsten, R.A. and White, A.M.: 1989, ‘Necturus maculosus (Rafinesque), Mudpuppy’, In: Pfingsten, R.A. and Downs, F.L. (eds) Salamanders of Ohio, Bulletin of the Ohio Biological Survey, Columbus, pp. 72–78.Google Scholar
  49. Rappe, C., Buser, H.R., Stalling, D.L., Smith, L.M., and Dougherty, R.C.: 1981, ‘Identification of Polychlorinated Dibenzofurans in Environmental Samples’, Nature, 292, 524–526.Google Scholar
  50. Ronis, M.J.J. and Walker, C.H.: 1985, ‘Species Variations in the Metabolism of Liposoluble Organochlorine Compounds by Hepatic Microsomal Monooxygenase: Comparative Kinetics in Four Vertebrate Species’, Comp. Biochem. Physiol. 82, 445–449.Google Scholar
  51. Russell, R.W., Hecnar, S.J., and G.D. Haffner.: 1995, ‘Organochlorine Pesticide Residues in Southern Ontario Spring Peepers’, Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 14, 815–817.Google Scholar
  52. Ryan, J.J., Lau, B.P.-Y., Hardy, J.A., Stone, W.B., O'Keefe, P., and Gierthy, J.F.: 1986, ‘2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin and Related Dioxins and Furans in Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) Tissues from the Upper St. Lawrence River’, Chemosphere 15, 537–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Safe, S.H.: 1994, ‘Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs): Environmental Impact, Biochemical and Toxic Responses, and Implications for Risk Assessment’, Crit. Rev. Toxicol. 24, 87–149.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Sessions, S.K. and Ruth, S.B.: 1990. ‘Explanation for Naturally Occurring Supernumerary Limbs in Amphibians’. J. Exp. Zool. 254, 38–47.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Stone, W.B., Kiviat, E., and Butkas, S.A.: 1980, ‘Toxicants in Snapping Turtles’, New York Fish and Game J. 27, 39–50.Google Scholar
  56. Struger, J., Elliott, J.E., Bishop, C.A., Obbard, M.E., Norstrom, R.J., Weseloh, D.V., Simon, M., and Ng, P.: 1993, ‘Environmental Contaminants in Eggs of the Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina serpentina) from the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin in Ontario, Canada (1981, 1984)’, J. Great Lakes Res. 19, 681–694.Google Scholar
  57. Vial, J.L., and Saylor, L.: 1993, ‘The Status of Amphibian Populations: A Compilation and Analysis’, Working Document No. 1, Declining Amphibian Task Force, IUCN/SSC, 56 pp.Google Scholar
  58. Vogt, R.C.: 1981, ‘Natural History of Amphibians and Reptiles in Wisconsin’, The Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.Google Scholar
  59. Walker, M.K., and Peterson, R.E. 1991. ‘Potencies of Polychlorinated Dibenzo-p-dioxin, Dibenzofuran and Biphenyl Congeners, Relative to 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin for Producing Early Life Stage Mortality in Rainbow Trout (Oncorynchus mykiss)’, Aquatic Toxicol. 21: 219–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Weller, W.F. and Oldham, M.S.: 1988, ‘Ontario Herpetofaunal Summary’, Publ. Ont. Field Herpetologists, Ontario, Canada, 221 pp.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christine A. Bishop
    • 1
  • Andrée D. Gendron
    • 2
  1. 1.Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment CanadaBurlingtonCanada
  2. 2.Department Biological ScienceUniversity of Québec at Montréal, Succ.MontréalCanada

Personalised recommendations