Gaschak, S.P.; Beresford, N.A.; Barnett, C.L.; Wells, C.; Maksimenko, A.; Chaplow, J.S.

Radionuclide data for vertebrates in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Data comprise radionuclide concentrations in soils and a range of terrestrial vertebrate species (reptiles, small mammals and birds) sampled in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ) between 1999 and 2008. Reptiles were collected in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2007, birds, bats, and small mammals were collected in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008. Dose rate data are provided for one study, both as ambient dose rate measurements and also as recorded by thermoluminescent dosimeters attached to small mammal species. The isotopes measured include: Americium-241, Caesium-134 and 137, Cobalt-60, Europium-154 and 155, Potassium-40, Plutonium-238, -239 and -240, Strontium-90. The data were used to assess the concentration of radioactive contamination in soil, consequent uptake of radionuclides by wildlife living in the CEZ and to test prediction of the ERICA Tool assessment model.

Funding for preparing this data set was provided by the EU COMET project and TREE project funded by the NERC, Environment Agency and Radioactive Waste Management Ltd. under the RATE programme.

Publication date: 2018-02-21

Get the data

This dataset is made available under the terms of the Open Government Licence

Format of the dataset : Comma-separated values (CSV)

You must cite: Gaschak, S.P.; Beresford, N.A.; Barnett, C.L.; Wells, C.; Maksimenko, A.; Chaplow, J.S. (2018). Radionuclide data for vertebrates in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. NERC Environmental Information Data Centre.


© NERC (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology)


Study area
Temporal extent
1999-01-01    to    2008-07-01

Supplemental information

Other useful information regarding this dataset:

Video Abstract for The transfer of 137Cs, Pu isotopes and 90Sr to bird, bat and ground dwelling small mammal species within the Chernobyl exclusion zone
Beresford, N. A., Gaschak, S., Maksimenko, A., & Wood, M. D. (2016). The transfer of 137 Cs, Pu isotopes and 90 Sr to bird, bat and ground-dwelling small mammal species within the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 153, 231-236
Beresford, N. A., Gaschak, S., Barnett, C. L., Howard, B. J., Chizhevsky, I., Strømman, G., … Copplestone, D. (2008). Estimating the exposure of small mammals at three sites within the Chernobyl exclusion zone – a test application of the ERICA Tool. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 99(9), 1496–1502
Barnett, C. L., Gaschak, S., Beresford, N. A., Howard, B. J., & Maksimenko, A. (2009). Radionuclide activity concentrations in two species of reptiles from the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Radioprotection, 44(5), 537–542.

Provenance & quality

Reptiles were trapped at two sites: 'Red Forest 1' and 'Red Forest2'. Red Forest 1 was approximately 2.6 km south west from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant; trapping occurred over a triangular area of circa 0.15 km2 . Red Forest 2 was approximately 2.7 km south west from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant; and trapping occurred over a square shaped area of circa 0.01 km2. Lacerta agilis were caught in Shermann traps; Natrix natrix were caught by hand. Soil samples (0–10 cm) were collected at Red Forest 1 in June 2001 and at Red Forest 2 in May 2007.

Small mammals were trapped (and released in most cases) at three forest sites with differing soil radionuclide activity concentrations (Low, Medium and High) in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. At each site small mammal traps were located in a 100 m x 100 m study area. Soil samples (0-10 cm) were also sampled at these sites. Animals were fitted with thermoluminescent dosimeters.

A range of passerine bird species were collected by mist nets during June 2005, euthanised and retained frozen. Three species of bats were also collected from the sites during the period May and June 2008 using mist nets. After being euthanised the samples were stored frozen whilst awaiting analyses.

Correspondence/contact details

Professor Nick Beresford
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Lancaster Environment Centre, Library Avenue, Bailrigg
United Kingdom


Gaschak, S.P.
Chornobyl center
Beresford, N.A.
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Barnett, C.L.
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Wells, C.
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Maksimenko, A.
Chornobyl center
Chaplow, J.S.
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Other contacts

Environmental Information Data Centre
NERC Environmental Information Data Centre


Spatial representation type
Tabular (text)
Spatial reference system


Topic categories
Americium,  Caesium,  Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ) Cobalt,  COMET,  Concentration ratio,  Environmental risk Environmental survey ERICA,  Europium,  Plutonium,  Potassium,  radioecology,  Radioecology radionuclide,  Soil Strontium,  Terrestrial biota,  Transfer parameter,  TREE,  Ukraine
Environmental Monitoring Facilities