The nuclear accident in the Fukushima prefecture released a large amount of artificial radionuclides that might have short- and long-term biological effects on wildlife. Ionizing radiation can be a harmful source of reactive oxygen species, and previous studies have already shown reduced fitness effects in exposed animals in Chernobyl. Due to their potential health benefits, carotenoid pigments might be used by animals to limit detrimental effects of ionizing radiation exposure. Here, we examined concentrations of carotenoids in blood (i.e. a snapshot of levels in circulation), liver (endogenous carotenoid reserves), and the vocal sac skin (sexual signal) in relation to the total radiation dose rates absorbed by individual (TDR from 0.2 to 34 μGy/h) Japanese tree frogs (Hyla japonica). We found high within-site variability of TDRs, but no significant effects of the TDR on tissue carotenoid levels, suggesting that carotenoid distribution in amphibians might be less sensitive to ionizing radiation exposure than in other organisms or that the potential deleterious effects of radiation exposure might be less significant or more difficult to detect in Fukushima than in Chernobyl due to, among other things, differences in the abundance and mixture of each radionuclide.
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