Publication Date

Spring 2020

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Cathleen Webb (Director), Bangbo Yan, and Christopher Groves

Degree Program

Department of Chemistry

Degree Type

Master of Science


Heavy metal pollution in the environment pose risks to ecosystems and the populations that reside in them. Mercury, lead, and cadmium negatively impact humans by way of neurological disorders, various cancers, and damage the reproductive organs, kidneys, and lungs. Bats have been studied as a bioindicator species to identify possibly elevated levels of these metals in the environment. Previous studies have identified correlation between metal concentrations within bat tissues and fur. Many bat species are endangered or at risk due to white-nose syndrome so collection of tissues and fur for analysis can impose stress on bat colonies. This study investigates the presence of a correlation between mercury concentrations and lead and cadmium concentrations in guano. Thirty-seven guano samples from a breeding colony of federally endangered gray bats were analyzed for mercury using a mercury analyzer. Lead and cadmium concentrations were determined using acid digestion and ICP-OES. Analysis indicates a positive correlation between mercury, lead, and cadmium. Guano samples from the same cores consistently mirror these findings. In conclusion, when the concentration of mercury, lead, or cadmium is determined for a bat guano sample the remaining two concentrations can be predicted.


Chemistry | Environmental Chemistry | Environmental Sciences | Physical Sciences and Mathematics