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Walter Nelson Beyer

USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
BARC-East, Bldg 308
10300 Baltimore Ave
Beltsville, MD 20705

Photo of W. Nelson Beyer

Telephone: 301-497-5703

Fax: 301-497-5624

Email: nbeyer@usgs.gov 

Zoologist

Primary Responsibilities: 
To conduct research on the effects of environmental contaminants on wildlife.

Education/Training: 
B.A., Columbia University, Biology (1971)
Ph.D., Cornell University, Ecology (1975)

Areas of Expertise/Interest: Wildlife toxicology, environmental contaminants in food chains, soil biology

Accomplishments/Awards/Achievements: 

Dr. Beyer works primarily on Natural Resource Damage Assessments for the Department of the Interior. At Palmerton, Pennsylvania, along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, he studied phytotoxic effects on the forest from Zn smelter emissions. He supported his field work with controlled investigations on toxicity of Zn to tree seedlings under greenhouse conditions, on nutrient interactions with toxic metals, and on the remedial effects of liming the contaminated soil for use in restoration of the site. At two additional Natural Resource Damage Assessment sites, in the Coeur d’Alene River Basin and in the Southeast Missouri Lead Mining District, he documented the poisoning of songbirds by lead.

Over the years, he developed the premise that soil ingestion may be a major pathway of exposure in wildlife for some contaminants, measuring rates of soil ingestion for many species and demonstrating poisoning by this route in waterfowl and songbirds. He also maintains an interest in the transfer of contaminants in food chains based on earthworms.

With his coeditor, Jim Meador, he produced the second edition of Environmental Contaminants in Biota: Interpreting Tissue Concentrations, 2011. In 2012, he received the Government Service Award from the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

Active Projects: 

Estimating injury from zinc smelting to the forest near Palmerton, Pennsylvania
Toxicity of lead and zinc to wildlife

Selected Publications: 

Andrade, N. A., T. Centofanti, L. L. McConnell, C. J. Hapeman, A. Torrents, A. Nguyen, W. N. Beyer, R. L. Chaney, J. M. Novak, M. O. Anderson, and K. B. Cantrell. 2014. Utilizing thin-film solid-phase extraction to assess the effect of organic carbon amendments on the bioavailability of DDT and dieldrin to earthworms. Environmental Pollution 185:307-313. Abstract

Beyer, W. N., Y. Chen, P. Henry, T. May, D. Mosby, B. A. Rattner, V. I. Shearn-Bochsler, D. Sprague, and J. Weber. 2014. Toxicity of Pb-contaminated soil to Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) and the use of the blood-dietary Pb slope in risk assessment. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management 10(1):22-29. Abstract

Ford, K. L. and W. N. Beyer. 2014. Soil criteria to protect terrestrial wildlife and open-range livestock from metal toxicity at mining sites. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 186(3):1899-1905. Abstract

Beyer, W. N. and R. W. Gale. 2013. Persistence and changes in bioavailability of dieldrin, DDE and heptachlor epoxide in earthworms over 45 years. Ambio 42(1):83-89 abstract

Beyer, W. N., C. E. Green, M. Beyer, and R. L. Chaney. 2013. Phytotoxicity of zinc and manganese to seedlings grown in soil contaminated by zinc smelting. Environmental Pollution 179:167-176. Abstract

Beyer, W. N., J. C. Franson, J. B. French, T. May, B. A. Rattner, V. I. Shearn-Bochsler, S. E. Warner, J. Weber, and D. Mosby. 2013. Toxic exposure of songbirds to lead in the southeast Missouri lead mining district. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 65(3):598-610. Abstract

Beyer, W. N., C. Krafft, S. Klassen, C. E. Green, and R. L. Chaney. 2011. Relating injury to the forest ecosystem near Palmerton, PA, to zinc contamination from smelting. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 61(3):376-388. abstract

Beyer, W. N. and J. P. Meador, editors. 2011. Environmental contaminants in biota : interpreting tissue concentrations. 2nd edition. CRC Press , Boca Raton, FL. xv, 751 pp. book info

Hansen, J. A., D. Audet, B. L. Spears, K. A. Healy, R. E. Brazzle, D. J. Hoffman, A. Dailey, and W. N. Beyer. 2011. Lead exposure and poisoning of songbirds using the Coeur d'Alene River Basin, Idaho. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management 7(4):587-595. abstract

Beyer, W. N., M. C. Perry, and P. C. Osenton. 2008. Sediment ingestion rates in waterfowl (Anatidae) and their use in environmental risk assessment. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management 4(2):246-251. abstract

Beyer, W. N., G. Gaston, R. Brazzle, A. F. O'Connell, Jr., and D. J. Audet. 2007. Deer exposed to exceptionally high concentrations of lead near the continental mine in Idaho, USA. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 26(5):1040-1046. abstract

Beyer, W. N., J. Dalgarn, S. Dudding, J. B. French, R. Mateo, J. Miesner, L. Sileo, and J. Spann. 2005. Zinc and lead poisoning in wild birds in the Tri-State Mining District (Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri). Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 48(1):108-117. abstract

Carpenter, J. W., G. A. Andrews, and W. N. Beyer. 2004. Zinc toxicosis in a free-flying trumpeter swan (Cygnus buccinator). Journal of Wildlife Diseases 40(4):769-774. abstract

Beyer, W. N. and G. F. Fries. 2003. Toxicological significance of soil ingestion by wild and domestic animals. Pages 151-166 in David J. Hoffman, Barnett A. Rattner, G. Allen Burton, Jr., and John Cairns, Jr., editors. Handbook of Ecotoxicology. 2nd edition. Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, FL. 1,290 pp. book info

Day, D. D., W. N. Beyer, D. J. Hoffman, A. Morton, L. Sileo, D. J. Audet, and M. A. Ottinger. 2003. Toxicity of lead-contaminated sediment to mute swan. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 44(4):510-522. abstract

Sileo, L., W. N. Beyer, and R. Mateo. 2003. Pancreatitis in wild zinc-poisoned waterfowl. Avian Pathology 32(6):655-660. abstract

Beyer, W. N. and D. Audet. 2002. Moving from the individual to the population level in environmental risk assessments. SETAC Globe 3(5):28-29.

Beyer, W. N. 2001. Estimating toxic damage to soil ecosystems from soil organic matter profiles. Ecotoxicology 10(5):273-283. abstract

Beyer, W. N. 2000. Hazards to wildlife from soil-borne cadmium reconsidered. Journal of Environmental Quality 29(5):1380-1384. abstract

Beyer, W. N., D. J. Audet, G. H. Heinz, D. J. Hoffman, and D. Day. 2000. Relation of waterfowl poisoning to sediment lead concentrations in the Coeur d'Alene River Basin. Ecotoxicology 9(3):207-218. abstract

Beyer, W. N. and G. H. Heinz. 2000. [Letter to the Editor] Implications of regulating environmental contaminants on the basis of wildlife populations and communities. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 19(7):1703-1704. abstract

Vyas, N. B., J. W. Spann, G. H. Heinz, W. N. Beyer, J. A. Jaquette, and J. M. Mengelkoch. 2000. Lead poisoning of passerines at a trap and skeet range. Environmental Pollution 107(1):159-166. abstract

Beyer, W. N., J. Spann, and D. Day. 1999. Metal and sediment ingestion by dabbling ducks. Science of the Total Environment 231(2-3):235-239. abstract

Beyer, W. N., D. J. Audet, A. Morton, J. K. Campbell, and L. LeCaptain. 1998. Lead exposure of waterfowl ingesting Coeur d’Alene River Basin sediments. Journal of Environmental Quality 27(6):1533-1538. abstract

Beyer, W. N., J. C. Franson, L. N. Locke, R. K. Stroud, and L. Sileo. 1998. Retrospective study of the diagnostic criteria in a lead-poisoning survey of waterfowl. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 35(3):506-512. abstract

Hui, C. A. and W. N. Beyer. 1998. Sediment ingestion of two sympatric shorebird species. Science of the Total Environment 224(1-3):227-233. abstract

Beyer, W. N. 1996. Accumulation of chlorinated benzenes in earthworms. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 57(5):729-736. abstract

Beyer, W. N., G. H. Heinz, and A. Redmon-Norwood, editors. 1996. Environmental Contaminants in Wildlife: Interpreting Tissue Concentrations. SETAC Special Publications Series. Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, FL. 494 pp. book info

Beyer, W. N. and G. Linder. 1995. Making sense of soil ecotoxicology. Pages 104-116 in David J. Hoffman, Barnett A. Rattner, G. Allen Burton, Jr., and John Cairns, Jr., editors. Handbook of Ecotoxicology. Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, Florida. x, 755 pp.

Beyer, W. N. and G. Storm. 1995. Ecotoxicological damage from zinc smelting at Palmerton, Pennsylvania. Pages 596-608 in David J. Hoffman, Barnett A. Rattner, G. Allen Burton, Jr., and John Cairns, Jr., editors. Handbook of Ecotoxicology. Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, Florida. x, 755 pp.

Beyer, W. N., E. E. Connor, and S. Gerould. 1994. Estimates of soil ingestion by wildlife. Journal of Wildlife Management 58(2):375-382. abstract

Beyer, W. N. and C. Stafford. 1993. Survey and evaluation of contaminants in earthworms and in soils derived from dredged material at confined disposal facilities in the Great Lakes region. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 24(2): 151-165. abstract

Beyer, W. N., G. Miller, and J. W. Simmers. 1990. Trace elements in soil and biota in confined disposal facilities for dredged material. Environmental Pollution 65(1):19-32. abstract

Beyer, W. N. and A. J. Krynitsky. 1989. Long-term persistence of dieldrin, DDT, and heptachlor epoxide in earthworms. Ambio 18(5):271-273. abstract

Stendell, R. C., W. N. Beyer, and R. A. Stehn. 1989. Accumulation of lead and organochlorine residues in captive American kestrels fed pine voles from apple orchards. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 25(3):388-391. abstract

Beyer, W. N. 1988. Damage to the forest ecosystem on Blue Mountain from zinc smelting. Trace Substances in Environmental Health 22:249-262.

Beyer, W. N., J. W. Spann, L. Sileo, and J. C. Franson. 1988. Lead poisoning in six captive avian species. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 17(1):121-130. abstract

Beyer, W. N. and E. J. Cromartie. 1987. A survey of Pb, Cu, Zn, Cd, Cr, As, and Se in earthworms and soil from diverse sites. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 8(1):27-36. abstract

Beyer, W. N., G. L. Hensler, and J. Moore. 1987. Relation of pH and other soil variables to concentrations of Pb, Cu, Zn, Cd, and Se in earthworms. Pedobiologia 30:167-172.

Grue, C. E., D. J. Hoffman, W. N. Beyer, and L. P. Franson. 1986. Lead concentrations and reproductive success in European starlings Sturnus vulgaris nesting within highway roadside verges. Environmental Pollution (Series A) 42(2):157-182. abstract

Beyer, W. N. and A. Anderson. 1985. Toxicity to woodlice of zinc and lead oxides added to soil litter. Ambio 14(3):173-174. abstract

Beyer, W. N., O. H. Pattee, L. Sileo, D. J. Hoffman, and B. M. Mulhern. 1985. Metal contamination in wildlife living near two zinc smelters. Environmental Pollution (Series A) 38(1):63-86. abstract

Sileo, L. and W. N. Beyer. 1985. Heavy metals in white-tailed deer living near a zinc smelter in Pennsylvania. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 21(3):289-296. abstract

Beyer, W. N., G. W. Miller, and E. J. Cromartie. 1984. Contamination of the O2 soil horizon by zinc smelting and its effect on woodlouse survival. Journal of Environmental Quality 13(2):247-251. abstract

Beyer, W. N., R. L. Chaney, and B. M. Mulhern. 1982. Heavy metal concentrations in earthworms from soil amended with sewage sludge. Journal of Environmental Quality 11(3):381-385. abstract

Beyer, W. N. and C. D. Gish. 1980. Persistence in earthworms and potential hazards to birds of soil applied DDT, dieldrin, and heptachlor. Journal of Applied Ecology 17(2):295-307. abstract

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