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(IP64) A review of small mammal population studies conducted on three superfund sites.
McMurry, Scott*,1, Reynolds, Kevin1, Strauss, Richard1, Hooper, Michael1, Cobb, George1, 1 Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA
ABSTRACT- Population level studies of wildlife are inherently difficult as the dynamics of a population are related to many factors, including age structure, sex ratios, nutrition, habitat, disease, climatic variation, predators, and sometimes contaminants. Isolating the effects of contaminants on a population can obviously be a challenge, and in reality, few studies have been conducted on the responses of terrestrial populations to contaminant exposure. We present overviews of three studies dealing with rodent populations that were monitored on Superfund Sites consisting of mixed contaminants in Oklahoma, Colorado, and Montana. Each study was focused on resident communities of small mammals, although typically one species dominated the community, and comprised much of the analysis. Dominant species included cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus) in the Oklahoma study, and deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) in Colorado and Montana. Study designs typically incorporated the use of mark-recapture methods on trapping grids established on replicated treatment and reference plots. Grids were trapped multiple times a year for at least two years. Abundance, survival, age structure, reproduction, and recruitment were examined as typical measurement endpoints in these studies. Indications in all of the studies were that relationships existed between demographic endpoints and exposure to contaminants, although the hypothesized response was not always evident. In all cases, results indicated that the use of population endpoints is a potentially viable means of assessing contaminant effects. However, concerns of adequately controlling for the inherent variation in population dynamics and documenting exposure to contaminants is a continuing concern.
Key words: population, terrestrial, ecological risk assessment, mammals
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