Contaminant exposure in terrestrial vertebrates

Philip N. Smith, George P. Cobb, Céline Godard-Codding, Dale Hoff, Scott T. McMurry, Thomas R. Rainwater, Kevin D. Reynolds

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

131 Scopus citations


Here we review mechanisms and factors influencing contaminant exposure among terrestrial vertebrate wildlife. There exists a complex mixture of biotic and abiotic factors that dictate potential for contaminant exposure among terrestrial and semi-terrestrial vertebrates. Chemical fate and transport in the environment determine contaminant bioaccessibility. Species-specific natural history characteristics and behavioral traits then play significant roles in the likelihood that exposure pathways, from source to receptor, are complete. Detailed knowledge of natural history traits of receptors considered in conjunction with the knowledge of contaminant behavior and distribution on a site are critical when assessing and quantifying exposure. We review limitations in our understanding of elements of exposure and the unique aspects of exposure associated with terrestrial and semi-terrestrial taxa. We provide insight on taxa-specific traits that contribute, or limit exposure to, transport phenomenon that influence exposure throughout terrestrial systems, novel contaminants, bioavailability, exposure data analysis, and uncertainty associated with exposure in wildlife risk assessments. Lastly, we identify areas related to exposure among terrestrial and semi-terrestrial organisms that warrant additional research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-64
Number of pages24
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2007


  • Assessment
  • Contaminant
  • Exposure
  • Terrestrial
  • Vertebrate


Dive into the research topics of 'Contaminant exposure in terrestrial vertebrates'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this