Mercury (Hg) causes a range of deleterious effects in wildlife, but little is known about its effects on amphibians. Our objective was to determine whether Hg affects performance and behavior in two-lined salamanders (Eurycea bislineata). We collected salamanders from Hg-contaminated and reference sites and assessed speed, responsiveness, and prey capture ability. Mercury concentrations were >17x higher in salamanders from the contaminated sites and were among the highest documented in amphibians. In the first, but not in the second, locomotion trial, we found a significant effect of Hg on speed and responsiveness. In the prey capture experiment, reference salamanders ate approximately twice as many prey items as the contaminated salamanders. Together, our results suggest that sublethal Hg concentrations may negatively affect salamanders by reducing their ability to successfully execute tasks critical to survival. Future work is warranted to determine whether Hg has other sublethal effects on salamanders and whether other amphibians are similarly affected. - Mercury contamination may alter behavior and performance in the northern two-lined salamander (Eurycea bislineata).
Burke, John N; Bergeron, Christine M; Todd, Brian D;  Hopkins, William A., E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org 
- Wildlife Ecotoxicology and Physiological Ecology Program, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 100 Cheatham Hall, Blacksburg, VA 24061 (United States)