Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Jennifer (Barkman) Pincin, Auburn University

Class Year: 

Project Title: 

Effects of Polychlorinated Biphenyls on Snapping Turtle Behavior and Metabolism


This study examined the relationship between exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and behavior and metabolic rates measured as oxygen consumption of juvenile snapping turtles, Chelydra serpentina. Two behavioral assays were done: a predator avoidance study and a foraging study. The turtles fed contaminated food were found be more active than those fed reference food in the first of three trials in the predator avoidance study. There was no significant difference found among treatments in the ability of juveniles to forage for live food. In the metabolism study the juveniles fed contaminated food were found to have higher rates of oxygen consumption than those fed reference food in two of three months. These results suggest that PCB contamination through food may affect the metabolism of the organism, but perhaps may not have a significant effect on behavior.