Accumulation and Maternal Transfer of Polychlorinated Biphenyls in Snapping Turtles of the Upper Hudson River, New York, USA

Publication Date


Document Type



We conducted field studies over three years to assess body burdens and maternal transfer of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) as well as indices of sexual dimorphism in snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina) of the upper Hudson River (NY, USA.) We collected adult turtles in areas known to be contaminated with PCBs and in nearby reference areas for measurement of body size, precloacal length, and penis size. We analyzed PCB concentrations in eggs collected over three years and in whole blood from adults in one year. Total PCB concentrations (mean +/- standard error) in eggs were 2,800 +/- 520 and 59 +/- 5 ng/g wet weight in the contaminated area and the reference area, respectively. Eggs from the contaminated area were significantly enriched in tri-, penta-, and hepta-PCBs relative to the reference area. Blood from adults in the contaminated area averaged 475 +/- 200 and 125 +/- 34 ng/g wet weight for males and females, respectively. In the reference area, blood PCB concentrations were 7 +/- 3 and 4 +/- 1 ng/g wet weight for males and females, respectively. Significant positive relationships were found between carapace length and blood PCB concentration for both sexes in the contaminated area; however, only a marginal relationship was found between female carapace length and concentration of PCBs in their eggs. Our results suggest that PCB contamination of the upper Hudson River presents risks of establishing high body burdens and of maternal transfer of PCBs to eggs, although our measures of gross morphology revealed no discernable expression of abnormal sexual development or reproduction.

Publication Title

Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry





First Page


Last Page




Publisher Policy

no archiving allowed

This document is currently not available here.

Find in your library