Habitat and Land-Use Influences on Contaminant Bioaccumulation

Science Center Objects

The distribution and occurrence of contaminants and the associated biological exposure in ecological systems are driven by complex interactions between contaminant sources and mobilization pathways that are overlaid upon the habitat requirements of at-risk organisms. Moreover, landscape structure and land uses can strongly influence the driving processes of contaminant cycling, as well as the distribution and availability of important habitat for fish and wildlife. Therefore, determining risk patterns and developing robust prediction of the contaminant impacts associated with land-use change rely upon developing and understanding these interactions.

This theme of the Contaminant Ecology Research Program focuses on a combination of carefully designed contaminant-exposure monitoring in biosentinel organisms, paired with focused experimental studies of the direct impacts of various land uses on contaminant bioaccumulation. The ultimate goals are to: 1) address the science needs of resource managers to facilitate a better understanding of how habitat management and land-use change may influence contaminant cycling and risk; 2) support effective decision-making processes for complex natural resource issues involving diverse threats, competing resource needs, and limited resources; and 3) determine exposure profiles across the landscape in order to evaluate the geographic distribution of specific contaminants and to provide baseline estimates of contaminant exposure for retrospective studies.

Active Projects

  • Experimental Control of Methylmercury in Rice Wetlands using Alternative Rice Harvest Practices
  • Forestry Effects on Mercury Cycling and Bioaccumulation at a Watershed Scale
  • Western North America Mercury Synthesis: A Landscape Scale Analysis of Mercury Cycling, Bioaccumulation, and Risk Linking Long-term Datasets
  • The Effects of Wetland Restoration on Mercury Bioaccumulation in the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project: Using the Biosentinel Toolbox to Monitor Changes Across Multiple Habitats and Spatial Scales
  • Off-channel Habitats in the Willamette River: Implications for Methylmercury Cycling, Bioaccumulation, and Risk
  • Mercury Bioaccumulation in Fish from High-Elevation Lakes in National Parks across the Western United States 
  • Mercury Bioaccumulation in Waterbodies of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest
  • Mercury Cycling and Ecological Risk Across Habitats in Mount Rainier National Park