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Accession Number 5001827

Title Assessing terrestrial PCB contamination in the Eastern Region using shrews and other

small mammals.

Project Description The overall goal for the study is to develop a method to assess biotic harm from PCB

contamination in terrestrial habitats, and the strategy is to focus on indicator organisms that are

likely to have relatively high exposure in polluted terrestrial habitats. The project will focus on

shrews because they feed at a high trophic-level hence exposure to PCBs is likely to be high, and

thus effects are likely to be seen most easily in this species. Field investigations consist of

comparing the communities of trappable small mammals (including three shrew species) found on

study plots within a highly polluted area, to the mammals found at a reference plot nearby. For

the more abundant species, population parameters from mark and recapture data will be

compared between the sites. The polluted site is an area surrounding the pump station on a

petroleum pipeline, which has regularly released PCBs in the past. Data on general levels of soil

contamination has been obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Along with assaying dead animals for PCB contamination, a laboratory portion of the study will

develop a method to measure P450 induction in live short-tailed shrews (Blarina brevicauda) by the

measuring the amount of sleep induced by a standardized dose of pentobarbital. By using this in

vivo technique in our field study, we hope to gather data on exposure without killing the animals,

and reduce the interference with population and community level investigations.

Keywords community ecology, mammals, parasites, pcbs, peromyscus, population biology, shrews,

Principal John B French, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center: John_B_French@usgs.gov;

Investigators

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