John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Regional inhibition of cholinesterase in free‐ranging western pond turtles (Emys marmorata) occupying California mountain streams

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The present study investigated the potential effects of cholinesterase (ChE)‐inhibiting pesticides on western pond turtles (Emys marmorata) occupying streams in two regions of California, USA. The southern region was suspected of having increased exposure to atmospheric deposition of contaminants originating from Central Valley agriculture. The northern region represented reference ChE activities because this area was located outside of the prominent wind patterns that deposit pesticides into the southern region. Total ChE activity was measured in plasma from a total of 81 turtles from both regions. Cholinesterase activity of turtles was significantly depressed by 31% (p = 0.005) in the southern region after accounting for additional sources of variation in ChE activity. Male turtles had significantly increased ChE activity compared with females (p = 0.054). Cloaca temperature, length, mass, handling time, body condition, and lymph presence were not significant predictors of turtle ChE activity. In the southern region, 6.3% of the turtles were below the diagnostic threshold of two standard deviations less than the reference site mean ChE activity. Another diagnostic threshold determined that 75% of the turtles from the southern region had ChE activities depressed by 20% of the reference mean. The decrease in ChE activity in the southern region suggests sublethal effects of pesticide exposure, potentially altering neurotransmission, which can result in various deleterious behaviors. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. © 2012 SETAC

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