Contaminant Ecology Research Team (FRESC)

Science Center Objects

The FRESC Contaminant Ecology research program evaluates the distribution, movement, and ecological effects of environmental contaminants across the landscape and strives to provide relevant science in support of natural resource conservation, management, and decision making.

In the broadest sense, our work focuses on the interactions of contaminants with ecosystem processes and other ecological stressors. We employ innovative scientific approaches to improve our understanding of the cumulative effects of contaminants on ecosystems and define the feedbacks between ecosystem processes and contaminant dynamics. Specifically, our research is structured around three primary, interrelated themes (Habitat and Land-Use Influences on Contaminant BioaccumulationContaminant Bioaccumulation through Food Webs, and Ecological Effects of Contaminants). Although our work addresses numerous contaminant classes, there is a particular emphasis on Mercury Cycling and Effects on Ecological Communities. Each of the above themes can be considered an independent research effort, and together they provide a cohesive research and technical assistance approach to describing where and why contaminant threats exist, what potential effects they may have on ecological function, and how management actions can minimize potential risks.

Our work occurs in a diversity of freshwater, estuarine, and terrestrial habitats, and includes studies on a variety of fish, bird, amphibian, and invertebrate species. The FRESC Contaminant Ecology research program maintains a modern analytical laboratory facility, with capabilities that include mercury determination and speciation in biological tissues, ecosystem energetics and calorimetry, water quality analysis, and stress hormone activity quantification. Our capabilities are further expanded through collaborations with colleagues across North America.

Principal Investigator

Collin Eagles-Smith - Supervisory Research Ecologist

Federal Staff

Garth Herring - Ecologist

Caitlin Rumrill - Ecologist

Branden Johnson - Ecologist

Lora Tennant - Ecologist

Erica Johnson - Ecologist

James Willacker - Ecologist

John Pierce - Ecologist