Contaminant Biology Program

Featured Science Activities

Our science activities are summarized in a series of feature articles that highlight recent U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) environmental health science activities. They are short summaries of peer-reviewed journal articles and USGS reports co-authored by our specialized teams of scientists.
Older featured science activities are on our old Web site.

Filter Total Items: 54
Date published: February 15, 2017
Status: Completed

Fish Diets Switch From Aquatic to Terrestrial Insects in Streams Effected By Metal Contamination

A riparian zone rich in terrestrial insects can provide an alternate food source for fish in metal-impacted watersheds.

Contacts: Mike Focazio
Date published: January 4, 2017
Status: Completed

Is White Sucker Tumor Prevalence in some Wisconsin Rivers Related to Environmental Contaminant Exposures or Other Factors?

The incidence of particular skin and liver tumors on white suckers collected from some Wisconsin rivers corresponded to the degree of urban development within the watershed. Further research is needed to understand the relationship between exposure to urban-sourced contaminants and the initiation, promotion, and potential for population-level effects of these tumors.

Contacts: Vicki Blazer
Date published: October 21, 2016
Status: Completed

Damage Assessment and Restoration Tracking System (DARTS)—A new tool to support the Department of Interior's Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Program

A new, web-based interactive tool has been developed to increase access to the Department of Interior (DOI) Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) Program information.

Contacts: Jo Ellen Hinck
Date published: October 20, 2016
Status: Completed

Organic Contaminant Levels and the Reproductive Success of Ospreys in Chesapeake Bay

Changes in the regulation and use of some organic chemicals have caused environmental concentrations to stabilize or decline during the past 35 years coincident with a rebound in the osprey (Pandion haliaetus) population of the Chesapeake Bay.

Date published: September 14, 2016
Status: Completed

Synthesis of Mercury Distribution and Bioaccumulation Across Western North America

The unique combination of natural processes and human activities present in western North America can strongly affect the exposure of fish and birds to methylmercury, the most toxic form of mercury (Hg).

Date published: September 2, 2016
Status: Completed

Low Levels of Contaminants Found in Great Lakes Tree Swallow Eggs

Tree swallow eggs at most study sites in the Great Lakes basin were minimally exposed to legacy organic contaminants and brominated flame retardants.

Date published: June 21, 2016
Status: Completed

New Hepatitis B Virus Discovered in White Sucker (Catostomus commersonii)

The first known hepatitis B virus to infect fish (white sucker; Catostomus commersonii) has been discovered by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists. 

Date published: March 24, 2016
Status: Completed

New Sediment-Toxicity Benchmarks Available for Pesticides in Whole Sediment

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists developed 129 sediment-toxicity benchmarks for use in evaluating currently used pesticides in whole sediment.

Date published: March 4, 2016
Status: Completed

U.S. Geological Survey Scientist Recognized as Highly Cited Researcher

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientist Dr. Edward T. Furlong has been designated a Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher, ranking among the top 1 percent of researchers from 2003 to 2013 for most cited documents in their specific field (Environment/Ecology). He was listed in Thomson Reuters' "The World's Most Influential...

Date published: August 19, 2015
Status: Completed

Environmental Contaminants and Beak Deformities in Alaskan Chickadees

A recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) provides some of the first environmental contaminants data for a species of passerine bird (perching birds) in Alaska but leaves unanswered questions as to the cause of beak abnormalities found in this species.Beginning in the late 1990s, biologists and members of the public reported an unusual number of beak abnormalities among black-capped...

Date published: February 2, 2015
Status: Completed

Channel Catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) White Blood Cells are Functionally Modulated by Estrogens

Estrogens are recognized as modulators of immune responses in mammals, but how these effects might occur in fish was not understood. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists published findings that fish white blood cells (leukocytes) have specific estrogen receptors (ERs)—a discovery that moves scientists one step closer to understanding the connection between exposure to estrogenic substances...

Date published: January 30, 2015
Status: Completed

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Detected for the First Time in Wild Birds in North America

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are helping to track the movement of three strains of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses (HPAIV) in wild birds. HPAI viruses are a concern as they are very pathogenic to poultry and some species of wild birds such as raptors. Infection can result in significant mortality of poultry and impact international trade of poultry products. In...