Publication Date

Fall 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Environmental Biology

First Advisor

John Yunger, Ph. D.

Second Advisor

Phyllis Klingensmith, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Stephen Kent, M.B.A.


Trace metals become concentrated in urban and peri-urban soils with the use of agricultural practices and industrial emissions. Fertilizers, liming, sewage sludge, and irrigation water contain metals which accumulate in agricultural fields and pose a risk to humans and wildlife. Coal plants and brickyards release metals into the atmosphere which are deposited on soil and plant surfaces. This research quantifies the concentrations of nine trace metals in three different soil types. A total of 116 rodents were sampled in cotton fields and a desert. Cotton plants and triplicate soil samples were collected with each rodent capture. Soil samples were analyzed for organic carbon content, pH, soil texture, and trace metal concentrations. Soil, cotton plants, and rodents were digested and trace metal concentrations determined. Significant differences of nine trace metals, As, Ca, Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, Se, and Zn, were found across three different soil types. Rodent tissue metal concentrations were found to be significantly different across soil types; As and Se were highest in loam soils. The lowest concentration of Cr in rodent tissue was found in fields with loam soil. Nine trace metal concentrations were not significantly different across five different species of rodents. Soil texture can influence the availability of trace metals; High clay soils can bind to metals decreasing their bioavailability.