Julie Kaye

Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Animal Sciences


Robert C. Bayer

Second Committee Member

William R. Congleton

Third Committee Member

Bryan Pearce


This thesis has two primary goals. The first is to provide a preliminary analysis of the relationship between lobster shell disease in the Gulf of Maine and sediment contamination from the following metals: aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, iron, lead, mercury, nickel, selenium, and zinc. The second goal is to relate the results of sediment toxicity tests, benthic abundance surveys, and lobster homogenate metal concentrations to contamination of the aforementioned metals in sediments from Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. In order to achieve these goals, data pertaining to sediment concentrations of these metals were retrieved from the National Coastal Assessment (NCA) branch of the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI). Spearman correlation coefficients were calculated between the NCA and nearest WHOI sample sediment metal concentrations. All metals were significantly correlated, with the exception of aluminum Results from sediment toxicity tests, benthic abundance surveys and lobster homogenate metal concentrations were also retrieved from the NCA. Data pertaining to instances of shell disease in the Gulf of Maine were obtained from the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR). Maplnfo software was used to create a Geographic Informations System containing all of this data, which allowed spatial analysis. Since shell disease data in the Gulf of Maine is relatively scarce compared with the sediment chemistry data, it was decided to first analyze the relationships between sediment metal contamination and: 1) sediment toxicity to Ampelisca abdita, 2) benthic abundance surveys and 3) concentrations of metals in lobster homogenate. The results from these analyses indicate that 1) metal concentrations do not appear to be related to A. abdita mortality in sediment toxicity tests, 2) concentrations of the metals As, Cd, Cr, Fe, Ni, and Se are negatively correlated with the ratios of crustaceans in grab samples taken from the same locations, and 3) lobster homogenate and sediment concentrations of Al and Hg are positively correlated. Spearman rank correlation coefficients were calculated since the data were not normally distributed. In an attempt to relate the sediment quality triad and lobster homogenate data to instances of shell disease in the Gulf of Maine, Maplnfo was used to locate the closest NCA sediment quality triad (sediment chemistry, sediment toxicity, benthic abundance surveys) and lobster homogenate sample points to locations where shell-diseased lobsters were captured. Instances where distance was greater than 3 km were discarded. No conclusive results were found regarding the instances of shell disease in relation to the results from the sediment quality triad data or from metal concentrations in lobster homogenate. Inconclusive results indicate that more research is necessary.