Trace Element Accumulation in Two Turtle Species, Malaclemys terrapin and Chelydra serpentina, in New Jersey, USA

Molly Hillenbrand, Meiyin Wu, Simone Braeuer, Walter Goessler, Xiaona Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Trace elements in aquatic environments pose a risk to biological communities; this study investigates the total concentrations of arsenic (As), silver (Ag), cadmium (Cd), cobalt (Co), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), mercury (Hg), nickel (Ni), selenium (Se), lead (Pb), and zinc (Zn) within muscle, carapace, liver, and adipose tissues of diamondback terrapins and common snapping turtles in New Jersey. The effects of tissue type, sex, size, and location upon trace element accumulation were studied. The data obtained indicates that within diamondback terrapins and common snapping turtles, trace element accumulations displayed a significant difference among tissue types and sex (p < 0.005). The data indicates that Ag, Cd, Cu, and Hg can accumulate within the liver of diamondback terrapin. Se was found to accumulate in the livers of both diamondback terrapin and common snapping turtles. The highest mean concentrations of Co, Cr, Ni, and Pb were found in the carapace of both turtle species. Sex was found to have an impact on As, Hg, and Zn accumulation within different tissue types of diamondback terrapins. Diamondback terrapin males were found to have higher concentrations of As within the carapace. Diamondback terrapin females possessed higher concentrations of Hg in muscle tissues and Hg and Zn in the carapace. Turtle size and collection location land type and land cover did not display any correlation with trace element bioaccumulation for either species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1844-1853
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Trace Element Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Bioaccumulation
  • Common snapping turtle
  • Diamondback terrapin
  • Heavy metal
  • Metalloid
  • New Jersey


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