Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Dr. Sarah Gilman

Reader 2

Dr. Elise Ferree

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The Northern Dusky Salamander, or Desmognathus fuscus, was once wide-spread around Acadia National Park in Maine. As a result of heavy metal pollution over time, specifically from Hg and Al, the streams in Acadia National Park became no longer suitable for the salamander. Other amphibian populations around the globe have also experienced a decline at an alarming rate. As a result of urbanization and other anthropogenic sources (transportation, manufacturing, mining, etc.), more and more heavy metal pollution has been affecting and contaminating environments around the globe in both terrestrial and aquatic conditions. Bioremediation and phytoremediation are two natural methods of breaking down pollutants like heavy metals using different forms of life such as plants, bacteria, or fungi. Although there have been many factors suggested as the cause for the decline of the Northern Dusky Salamander and other amphibians, the leading and most harmful factor is heavy metal pollution. While bioremediation has been used as a method to break down different contaminants, an approach to implement it around the globe to help rid of heavy metal pollutants in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems is in dire need as not many are available. This study will focus on ways that heavy metals are introduced into an environment, the effects heavy metals have on amphibians, and bioremediation as a method to mediate this issue. An experiment testing three different bioremediators (two plants and a fungus), Phragmites australis, Paspalum distichum L., and Aspergillus niger, in soil and water samples collected from areas around the globe with high concentrations of Hg and Al will be proposed. This experiment would allow for a better understanding of where different forms of bioremediation will be successful in removing toxic heavy metals in a variety of different locations. This study was proposed to find a method that works globally to remove heavy metal contamination from ecosystems around the world using a sustainable practice in the future.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.