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Assessment of Metal Concentrations in Wild-caught Raccoons (Procyon lotor) in the Southeastern US

Sarah Hough1, J. Mitchell Lockhart1, W. James Loughry1, and Gretchen K. Bielmyer-Fraser2,*

1Department of Biology, Valdosta State University, Valdosta, GA 31698. 2Department of Chemistry, Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, FL 32211. *Corresponding author.

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 19, Issue 2 (2020): 256–270

Procyon lotor (Raccoon) is a widespread and abundant omnivore that uses a diversity of habitats. Therefore, this species can be useful for biomonitoring the exposure and availability of metals to wildlife. We measured the concentrations of 5 metals (cadmium [Cd], copper [Cu], nickel [Ni], lead [Pb] and zinc [Zn]) in the liver tissue of 446 wild Raccoons that were collected at 2 sites in 2005 and 2006. We found that concentrations of Zn were positively correlated with those of Cu but negatively correlated with those of Ni. Liver concentrations of Cu and Zn exhibited strong negative relationships with body weight, whereas Cd had a positive relationship. Zn liver concentrations differed by sex, site captured, and year of sampling. Significant differences in Cd and Pb concentrations in liver tissue were observed due to sex and year, but no significant differences were found for the other 2 metals. Our results provide a large sample size of reference values for metal concentrations in livers of Raccoons collected from rural areas in the southeastern United States.

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