Increased metal concentrations in giant sungazer lizards (Smaug giganteus) from mining areas in South Africa

Trevor McIntyre*, Martin J. Whiting

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Environmental contaminants from anthropogenic activity such as mining can have profound health effects on the animals living in adjacent areas. We investigated whether inorganic contaminants associated with gold-mining waste discharges were accumulated by a threatened species of lizard, Smaug giganteus, in South Africa. Lizards were sampled from two mining sites and two control sites. Blood samples from the most contaminated mining site had significantly greater concentrations of lithium, sodium, aluminum, sulfur, silicon, chromium, manganese, iron, nickel, copper, tungsten, and bismuth than the remaining sites. Contaminant concentrations were not significantly related to lizard body condition, although these relationships were consistently negative. The adult sex ratio of the population inhabiting the most contaminated site also deviated from an expected 1:1 ratio in favour of female lizards. We demonstrate that lizards at these mining sites contained high concentrations of heavy metals that may be imposing as yet poorly understood costs to these lizards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)574-585
Number of pages12
JournalArchives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
Volume63
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012

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