From: University of Notre Dame
Published June 9, 2016 12:03 PM

Using Lake Michigan turtles to measure wetland pollution

Decades of unregulated industrial waste dumping in areas of the Great Lakes have created a host of environmental and wildlife problems. Now it appears that Lake Michigan painted and snapping turtles could be a useful source for measuring the resulting pollution.

Researchers from the laboratory of Gary Lamberti, professor of biological sciences and director of the Stream and Wetland Ecology Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame, were working on a federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative project to assess, enhance and restore Great Lakes coastal wetlands, when undergraduate researcher Dayna Smith suggesting checking for contaminants in turtles that were incidentally captured in fish nets. The project, funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, involves a large consortium of universities and agencies in the Great Lakes area, including Notre Dame, collaborating in a 10-year monitoring program. The program involves assessing water quality, plants, invertebrates, fish, birds and amphibians, but not reptiles.

Turtle Image credit: Greg Goebel

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