Liver samples from 33 wild American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) livers from the Charleston, South Carolina, area were analyzed for arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), cobalt (Co), chromium (Cr), mercury (Hg), nickel (Ni), lead (Pb), and selenium (Se) concentrations. Alligators are top predators and are considered a good biomonitoring species for various toxins, including heavy metals. Alligators from other areas in the US have shown high concentrations of mercury and other heavy metals, but the Charleston area, which is highly industrialized, has not been investigated. We found wide variation in hepatic heavy metal and selenium concentrations among alligators. Length and sex did not show a strong relationship with any metal based on statistical analysis. However, cluster analysis revealed three groupings of alligators based on liver metal concentrations. Alligators with low Se:Hg ratios also had high concentrations of Hg. Due to the wide variation in metal concentrations among individual alligators, we postulate that individual diet and microhabitat usage could be the cause for this variation.
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Vol. 46 • No. 4