Ecosystems - Genetics and Genomics
Environmental toxicology is the study of the effects of chemical, physical, or biological agents on fish, wildlife, plants, and the environments in which they live. It includes the development of methods to minimize or reverse negative impacts produced during exposure. Methods use and development in the field of environmental toxicology continue to play an ever-increasing role in the assessment of pollution events, impacts, and remediation. USGS toxicologists develop, apply, and validate methods for assessing the effects of contaminants and other environmental stressors on wild populations.
One focus of our research is on bioaccumulation and toxicity of contaminants from water, sediment, and food sources; the physical, chemical, and biological factors affecting these processes; and the relationships between laboratory responses and characteristics of contaminated aquatic ecosystems as well as the bioconcentrations of contaminants in wildlife and habitat. Another focus is to provide answers explaining why one species may suffer adverse affects from exposure to a specific contaminant and another may not. This work includes assessing changes in gene expression in the presence of contaminants. This research supports environmental managers at our partner agencies by providing tools that determine the health and status of wildlife populations, identify susceptible individuals, predict how various environmental conditions affect wildlife, and monitor ecosystem functions.