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Reduced bone density, stunted growth in turtles exposed to common chemical
Date:11/16/2011

leave the body. Even people not directly exposed to extreme amounts of PCB may see effects; this research will help us understand these effects better."

In the study, the researchers examined Diamondback terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin) that were exposed to an amount of PCB 126 that was equivalent to the exposure the reptiles would experience in an urban aquatic environment, such as the mid-Atlantic's Chesapeake Bay or Louisiana's wetlands. The turtles were exposed to the chemical for six months, and were compared to a group of unexposed turtles kept in the same laboratory. Exposed turtles were smaller, had more juvenile features, and lower bone density. In a previous study, Dawn Holliday found that PCB-exposed turtles had a lower metabolic rate.

The changes have an effect on the way the turtles function. When diving for long periods of time, turtles stored calcium in their shells to help maintain a normal physiological state while they hold their breath. Lower bone density means less calcium, possibly resulting in a reduced ability to stay underwater for very long. Additionally, turtles with low bone density may produce eggs with thinner shells, leaving them more susceptible to predators. Lower density may result in a softer shell, enabling more predators to eat turtles. Affected turtles may also have difficulty eating hard prey, such as crabs, because the reptiles have smaller, weaker jaws and cannot easily crack shells.

The study was published in Aquatic Toxicology.


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Contact: Christian Basi
BasiC@missouri.edu
573-882-4430
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert  

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