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The Biomonitoring of Environmental Status and Trends (BEST) program of the Department of the Interior is focused to identify and understand effects of contaminant stressors on biological resources under their stewardship. Despite the desire of many to continuously monitor the environmental health of our estuaries, much can be learned by summarizing existing temporal, geographic, and phylogenetic contaminant information. To this end, retrospective contaminant exposure and effects data for amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals residing within 30 km of Atlantic coast estuaries are being assembled through searches of published literature (e.g., Fisheries Review, Wildlife Review, BIOSIS Previews) and databases (e.g., US EPA Ecological Incident Information System; USGS Diagnostic and Epizootic Databases), and compilation of summary data from unpublished reports of government natural resource agencies, private conservation groups, and universities. These contaminant exposure and effect data for terrestrial vertebrates (CEE-TV) are being summarized using Borland dBASE in a 96- field format, including species, collection time and site coordinates, sample matrix, contaminant concentration, biomarker and bioindicator responses, and source of information (N>1500 records). This CEE-TV database has been imported into the ARC/INFO geographic information system (GIS), for purposes of examining geographic coverage and trends, and to identify critical data gaps. A preliminary risk assessment will be conducted to identify and characterize contaminants and other stressors potentially affecting terrestrial vertebrates that reside, migrate through or reproduce in these estuaries. Evaluations are underway, using specific measurement and assessment endpoints, to rank and prioritize estuarine ecosystems in which terrestrial vertebrates are potentially at risk for purposes of prediction and focusing future biomonitoring efforts.
Additional Publication Details
A new database on contaminant exposure and effects in terrestrial vertebrates for natural resource managers