Heavy Metals, Hematology, Plasma Chemistry, and Parasites in Adult Hellbenders (Cryptobranchus Alleganiensis)


Ozark (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis bishopi) and eastern hellbenders (C. a. alleganiensis) from seven rivers in Missouri, USA, were collected to investigate essential information on hematology, parasites, and plasma chemistry and levels of select heavy metals (Hg, Pb, Cd, Cr, and Co) in the animals' blood. The body masses of Ozark hellbenders were much smaller than those of eastern hellbenders. Blood parasites were detected in Ozark hellbenders, but not eastern hellbenders. The higher frequency in occurrence of eosinophils in Ozark hellbenders (8.8-16.8%) than in eastern hellbenders (highest at 6.6%) might result from the infection of parasites. Seven of the 18 hematology and plasma parameters (hematocrit, basophils, eosinophils, K, P, Ca, and chloride) showed significant differences between subspecies. The blood levels of heavy metals Co, Hg, and Pb differed significantly between subspecies. Ozark hellbenders had higher blood levels of Co (p < 0.001), while blood levels of Hg and Pb were higher in eastern hellbenders. The levels of chromium (Cr) and cadmium (Cd) were not different between subspecies and among rivers. The eastern hellbenders at Niangua River and the Ozark hellbenders at the North Fork of the White River had lower Hg levels compared to eastern and Ozark hellbenders at other sites. All together, our findings provide important baseline information for managing this endangered species.



Second Department

Biological Sciences

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