The first human to enter Mammoth Cave passed under its arch about 4,000 years ago, but bats have been calling it home long before humans discovered it. Due to environmental exposure of mercury, these bats potentially show substantial mercury bioaccumulation. Bats now come into contact with mercury through atmospheric deposition from industrial sources. It is expected that the modern bats residing in Mammoth Cave should have measurable levels of mercury in their system which has been determined by guano analysis. Over fifty current samples of bat guano have been analyzed and exhibit mercury levels at the part per billion level. These results are compared to samples collected from historical guano deposits in Mammoth Cave National Park, which show substantially lower levels. Dates of historical samples have been provided from earlier studies.
Advisor(s) or Committee Chair
Dr. Cathleen Webb
Hagan, Stephanie, "Mercury Bioaccumulation in Bat Populations in Mammoth Cave National Park: Modern, Historical, and Ancient Samples" (2014). Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects. Paper 463.