Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Environmental Toxicology

Committee Chair

Ruth H. Carmichale, Ph.D.


The objective of this thesis was to meet growing demand for the development of environmental biomonitors that protect ecosystems and public health. To do this, I determined the potential of oyster shell as a bioindicator of cadmium (Cd) in the environment by determining the mode of Cd uptake and relationships between Cd concentrations in the environment, shell, and soft tissues of juvenile eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica Gmelin). I performed a review of the literature on the ability of oyster shell to retain metal contaminants and the factors that could affect this process (Chapter 2). I then reared C. virginica spat in an enclosed system with and without Cd for 90 days and determined Cd concentrations in shell and soft tissues (Chapter 3.) Shell margins of oysters grown in the treatment system had a greater concentration of Cd than shell margins of the control. Comparison between shell margins and whole shell suggests integration of Cd occurred primarily through uptake during growth rather than adsorptive processes after the formation of the shell even under low-growth conditions. Soft tissues generally had higher concentrations of Cd than shell. Findings indicate that C. virginica has potential to be used to track the presence and availability of Cd in its environment.