Determining Concentrations of Heavy Metals in American Marten (Martes americana) Tissues Using ICP-OES: Feasibility and Method Development

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Project Abstract: 
Industrial plants, mining, and farming operations release heavy metals into the environment, which can be incorporated into ecosystems and wildlife. Once inside an organism, the heavy metal deposits begin to have devastating effects on the animal, as well as on those that consume that animal. As the food chain continues, bioaccumulation of heavy metals continues to build as generations proceed, which can cause both physical and behavioral changes to occur in the organism. Heavy metal deposition in terrestrial ecosystems is relatively unknown, however, similar testing has been done on aquatic environments. To better understand the effects of heavy metals on terrestrial environments, we will be quantifying the mercury contamination in tissues of American marten (Martes americana), a predator species found in forests across northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. The goals of this research are to: 1) quantify mercury concentration, and other heavy metals, in marten tissue samples, and 2) develop protocol to use hair samples to test for mercury and other metals.
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