Natural Resources, School of


First Advisor

Leon Higley

Date of this Version

Spring 4-28-2021


Gotschall, Monica M. 2021. "Bioaccumulation and Partitioning of Heavy Metals in Cicindelidia haemorrhagica In Yellowstone National Park."


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Natural Resource Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professor Leon G. Higley. Lincoln, Nebraska: April 2021

Copyright © 2021 Monica Michele Gotschall


The tiger beetle Cicindelidia haemorrhagica (Coleoptera: Cicindelidae) are widely distributed in Yellowstone National Park (YNP) and exclusively living on thermal areas. Heavy metals including arsenic, copper, lead, and selenium are present in these thermal springs, presenting an unique environment for C. haemorrhagica. Therefore, from 2018 – 2020 I sampled adult C. haemorrhagica from YNP and adult C. haemorrhagica from a known population in a salt flat in Idaho not associated with a hot spring and measured heavy metal concentrations. All populations of C. haemorrhagica bioaccumulated heavy metals. Cuticular waxes showed small concentrations of metals indicating that those metals are being excreted. The exoskeleton and internal tissues had much greater concentrations indicating bioaccumulation in the exoskeleton and possible bioaccumulation in the internal tissue. Metal concentrations in the exoskeleton were different between metals, but the most statistically significant differences were for arsenic and selenium. Differences in arsenic distribution occurred in YNP beetles, compared to Idaho beetles raising the question of whether C. haemorrhagica in YNP have so diverged in adaptations from their counterparts in Idaho in regard to heavy metals associated with thermal areas that they may represent a distinct species or subspecies.

Advisor: Leon G. Higley