Date of Completion


Degree Type

Honors Thesis - Campus Access


Biology (BIOL)

First Advisor

Víctor D. Carmona-Galindo


Salt marshes in industrial areas prove to be an especially good tool for studying the biology of heavy metals because they act as sinks for both nutrients and toxins in their surroundings. In Los Angeles, the largest source of salt marsh benefits is Ballona Wetlands. The heavy metal content of insects and western fence lizards in Ballona Wetlands were analyzed to better understand metal spreading and effects. Insects were collected with nets on November 4, 2014 at three sites in the Ballona Wetlands, Los Angeles California. Two moth morphospecies, one membracid morphospecies, and Sceloporus occidentalis were tested for the concentrations of 32 heavy metals using Inductively-Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). The ventral side of moth morphospecies and the ventral patches of lizards were analyzed using Digital Imaging Analysis. In insects, we hypothesized that would be significant differences in heavy metal concentration among sites, morphospecies, and guilds. We also expected a correlation between heavy metals and wing hue intensity. In Sceloporus occidentalis, we predicted blue hue intensity of colored patches would be associated with tissue concentrations of heavy metals. Significant differences in insects were found between heavy metal concentrations among sites, morphospecies, and guilds. The hue of all moths was correlated with metals in some instances. After Bonferroni adjustment, 15 metals in lizards correlated negatively with the blue hue intensity of the ventral head. The results suggest that the metals may reach the wetlands by way of runoff from Ballona Creek, and affect the interspecies and intraspecies dynamics of vertebrates and invertebrates.