Faculty Research & Creative Activity

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2013


We developed a spatially explicit exposure model to interpolate and predict radiocesium (137Cs) body burdens found in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) on the U.S. Department of Energy’s (USDOE) Savannah River Site (SRS) to gain insight into and differentiate between the main contributing sources of this radionuclide for use in harvest management strategies that focus on minimizing human risk. Hunting has been allowed from permanent stands as a mechanism to manage the deer herd since 1965. All animals are monitored in the field for gross beta and gamma activity levels, providing a spatially explicit dataset. The models described here use the relative locations of the hunt-stands to predict 137Cs exposure distributions. We used kriging to create an interpolation surface using average white-tailed deer body burdens. Cross-validations of the kriged surfaces differentiated between sources of 137Cs and where deer reside on the SRS. The kriged surfaces, coupled with additional regression analyses, provide a comprehensive assessment of deer’s 137Cs body burdens with predictive capability that quantifies the scale at which such investigations can be conducted. Although the models are local in scale, the methods presented here can be used as a template for other large areas that are being monitored for radioactive fallout.

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