Researchers at the Notre Dame ecology lab are using turtles to study pollution in the Great Lakes. When analyzed, researchers found that the tissue of painted and snapping turtles contain the same concentration of contaminants as found in the soil of the wetlands -- making them an ideal "pollution barometer."
They tell us a lot more of the environment than just taking water and sediment samples.
Researchers take samples from animals like fish and turtles that live in the lakes instead of water and soil from the lakes because it tells them the broader scope of the effects of pollution.
Turtles are high on the food chain and live relatively long, making them ideal for the project.
Turtles can't metabolize the contaminants, like iron and lead, and instead store them in the rest of their body, like in muscle tissue and the shell.
Luckily, the researchers discovered the turtles store the same levels in their shells and claws as they do in their muscles and liver meaning they don't have to kill the turtles to do the testing.
So these heroes on the half shell can continue living in the lakes while helping save them.
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