Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
To address my first objective, I opportunistically collected road-killed bobcats (n=44) throughout Illinois during 2013-2014, and analyzed their liver tissue for the presence of PCBs, PBDEs, and various other alternative halogenated flame retardants. Concentrations of ∑PCBs ranged from 76.4 ng/g lw to 3782 ng/g lw (median 562.97 ng/g lw). Male bobcats had significantly higher concentrations of PCBs than females (p = 0.04). Concentrations of ∑PBDEs (including all detectable PBDE congeners) ranged from 8.3 to 1920 ng/g lipid weight (median: 50.3 ng/g lw). Among the alternative flame retardants screened, Dechloranes (including anti- and syn-Dechlorane Plus and Dechlorane-602, 603, and 604), tetrabromo-o-chlorotoluene (TBCT), and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) were also detected frequently, with median concentrations of 28.7, 5.2, and 11.8 ng/g lw, respectively. Dechlorane analogue compositions in bobcats were different from that reported in other studies, suggesting species- or analogue-dependent bioaccumulation, biomagnification, or metabolism of Dechlorane chemicals in different food webs. My findings, along with previously reported food web models, suggest Dechloranes may possess substantial bioaccumulation and biomagnification potencies in terrestrial mammalian food webs. Thus, attention should be given to these highly bioavailable flame retardants in future environmental biomonitoring and risk assessments in a post-PBDE era. To address my second objective I collected raccoons (n=32) from various sites across Illinois and Missouri during 2013-2015. Liver tissues were analyzed for the presence of PBDEs and Dechloranes. ∑PBDE concentrations ranged from 19.1 ng/g lw to 2124 ng/g lw (median = 98.0 ng/g lw) and did not differ between gender or age of raccoon. Although nonsignificant (p=0.06), adult raccoons appeared to have greater PBDE concentration loads compared to juveniles. These nonsignificant differences are likely due to large variation in contaminant concentrations, possibly reflecting differences in individual raccoon diet and behavior. This is the first study reporting bioaccumulation of halogenated flame retardants in a wild felid in North America, and also the first report of PBDE accumulation in North American raccoons. The wide detection of Dechloranes, HBCD and TBCT in bobcats suggests a broad exposure of these alternative flame retardants in terrestrial apex predators in terrestrial ecosystems. The comparatively high levels of PBDEs in raccoons also suggest that biota in terrestrial habitats are still widely exposed to and susceptible to the bioaccumulation of these flame retardants.
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