Assessment of non-invasive techniques for monitoring mercury concentrations in species of Amazon turtles

Larissa Guilhon, L Belger, Joanna Burger, Richard Vogt, Christian Jeitner, Jose Pacheco Peleja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


This study determined the concentrations of mercury (Hg) in four tissues of six species of turtles from the Rio Negro in the Amazon Basin. For two species, blood and carapace tissues were correlated with concentrations in internal tissues to establish whether blood or carapace could serve as a non-lethal indicator of internal metal exposure or body burden. The four tissues' Hg levels were also correlated to turtle size and gender. The liver in five species of turtles had the highest concentration, followed by carapace, muscle, and blood. The exception was Chelus fimbriatus, which had a higher metal concentration in the muscle than carapace. Regarding the correlation between total Hg concentrations in tissues of the two species, no significant correlation was noted for Podocnemis erythrocephala. However, for Podocnemis sextuberculata significant correlation was found between muscle ÿ liver, muscle ÿ blood, and liver ÿ blood. For P. erythrocephala, there was a correlation between Hg concentration in carapace and turtle size. For P. sextuberculata, there was no marked correlation between Hg concentration and size, but concentration in muscle was significantly influenced by gender. The patterns of Hg accumulation in tissues of the five species followed those described for freshwater species and some species of sea turtles. The difference in C. fimbriatus may be a result of a different pattern of non-living keratin layers on the carapace tissue. The use of carapace to infer internal concentrations of Hg is common in freshwater and sea turtles, but in this study it was found that only blood might be a reliable indicator of Hg concentrations in liver and muscle tissues for P. sextuberculata. Thus blood may be used as a non-invasive method to study concentrations of Hg in liver and muscle of P. sextuberculata.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-250
Number of pages13
JournalToxicological and Environmental Chemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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