Dr. Eagles-Smith is a Research Ecologist with the Corvallis Reseach Group in Corvallis, Oregon. His research focuses on the interactions among ecological processes, contaminant bioaccumulation, and effects on wild populations. His work specifically focuses on (1) the ecological factors regulating contaminant bioaccumulation and trophic transfer, with an emphasis on food web processes and contaminant cycling, (2) land use practices and ecosystem restoration effects on contaminant cycling through food webs, and (3) the sublethal effects of contaminants on individuals and contaminant-induced impairment to reproduction in the wild. Dr. Eagles-Smith's research is broadly applied across taxa (primarily fish and waterbirds) and habitat types (including lakes, freshwater wetlands, agricultural fields, and estuarine habitats).
Ph.D. Ecology. University of California, Davis (2006)
B.S. (Magna Cum Laude) Env. Resource Sciences.
University of California, Davis (2000)
Supervisory Research Ecologist, USGS, FRESC, Corvallis Research Group (8/07-3/2010).
Wildlife Biologist, USGS, WERC, UC Davis Field Station (8/07-3/2010).
Senior Biologist, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento (2/07-8/07).
Staff Biologist, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento (2/03-2/07).
Doctoral Research, Dept. of Wildlife, Fish and Cons. Biology, UC Davis (9/00-11/06).
Staff Research Assistant, Dept. of Wildlife, Fish and Cons. Biology, UC Davis (2/98-9/00).
Stable isotope applications to ecosystem energetics, food web ecology, fish and avian foraging ecology, mercury bioaccumulation in aquatic food webs, mercury effects on waterbirds, mercury bioaccumulation in waterbirds, avian reproductive ecology.
Science and Products
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.
Mercury contamination is a serious issue that impacts both ecosystem and human health on a global scale. In its organic (methylmercury) form, mercury is highly bioaccumulative and is among the most toxic compounds commonly found in the environment. Mercury is a relatively distinctive contaminant in the sense that the risk of deleterious environmental effects is more strongly related to ecological factors that control its cycling than to its inputs and sources.
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.
Whereas the other themes of the Contaminant Ecology Research Program focus on where, why, and how contaminants cycle and bioaccumulate in ecological systems, this theme is focused on determining what happens at environmentally relevant concentrations.
This is a broad theme representing the largest component of the Contaminant Ecology Research Program, acting as a bridge between the “Habitat and Land Use Influences” and “Ecological Effects” themes. “Contaminant Bioaccumulation” focuses on quantifying the transfer or movement of contaminants through food webs, and identifying the primary landscape factors and ecological mechanisms that are responsible for the variation in transfer rates among habitats and ecosystems. This theme largely follows the classic community ecology approach of quantifying energy flow through ecosystems, investigating interspecies interactions, and evaluating the demographic responses of species to various disturbances. As opposed to simply measuring contaminant trends in top predators, this ecological foundation provides a powerful framework in which to investigate the movement of contaminants through ecosystems that is explicitly based on how the ecosystems function. As such, results contribute to the body of knowledge regarding how ecological interactions contribute to contaminant cycling.
Summary of total mercury concentrations in dragonfly larvae, western mosquitofish, and tree swallow eggs collected from Cosumnes River Preserve 2011 – 2013
In order to document potential environmental health risk in Cosumnes River Preserve wetlands due to mercury, we analyzed dragonfly larvae, western mosquitofish, and tree swallow eggs collected from wetlands and rice fields of the Preserve from 2011 to 2013.
The dataset includes the bird species, sex, mercury concentration in breast feathers and whole blood, and the composite measure of fluctuating asymmetry. Statistical models were developed for each species to analyze the relationship between mercury exposure in either breast feathers or whole blood and the composite measure of fluctuating asymmetry, while accounting for the sex of each bird.
The dataset includes specifics on fragments of bullets recovered from shot Belding's ground squirrels from Oregon and California. Ground squirrels were radiographed and then we used ImageJ software to count and measure the area of those bullet fragments.
Total Mercury Concentrations in Fish Muscle from the Colorado River and Bright Angel Creek, AZ, USA (2015)
This dataset contains data on the length, mass, and muscle total mercury concentration of Brown Trout (Salmo trutta) and Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) collected from the Colorado River in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (GLCA) and Grand Canyon National Park (GRCA), and Bright Angel Creek in GRCA.
Mercury concentrations in multiple tissues of Kittlitz's murrelets (Brachyramphus brevirostris)
Mercury (Hg) is a non-essential, toxic metal that is distributed worldwide. Mercury biomagnifies in food webs and can threaten the health of top predators such as seabirds. The Kittlitz's murrelet (Brachyramphus brevirostris) is a seabird endemic to Alaska and the Russian Far East and is a species of conservation concern in the region. We...Kenney, Leah A.; Kaler, Robb S.; Kissling, Michelle L.; Bond, Alexander L.; Eagles-Smith, Collin A.
Modulators of mercury risk to wildlife and humans in the context of rapid global change
Environmental mercury (Hg) contamination is an urgent global health threat. The complexity of Hg in the environment can hinder accurate determination of ecological and human health risks, particularly within the context of the rapid global changes that are altering many ecological processes, socioeconomic patterns, and other factors like...Eagles-Smith, Collin A.; Silbergeld, Ellen K.; Basu, Niladri; Bustamante, Paco; Diaz-Barriga, Fernando; Hopkins, William A.; Kidd, Karen A.; Nyland, Jennifer F.
Characterizing Golden Eagle risk to lead and anticoagulant rodenticide exposure: A review
Contaminant exposure is among the many threats to Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) populations throughout North America, particularly lead poisoning and anticoagulant rodenticides (AR). These threats may act in concert with others (e.g., lead poisoning and trauma associated with striking objects) to exacerbate risk. Golden Eagles are skilled...Herring, Garth; Eagles-Smith, Collin A.; Buck, Jeremy A.
Correlates of immune defenses in golden eagle nestlings
An individual's investment in constitutive immune defenses depends on both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. We examined how Leucocytozoon parasite presence, body condition (scaled mass), heterophil-to-lymphocyte (H:L) ratio, sex, and age affected immune defenses in golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) nestlings from three regions:...MacColl, Elisabeth; Vanesky, Kris; Buck, Jeremy A.; Dudek, Benjamin; Eagles-Smith, Collin A.; Heath, Julie A.; Herring, Garth; Vennum, Chris; Downs, Cynthia J.
Selenium: Mercury molar ratios in freshwater fish in the Columbia River Basin: Potential applications for specific fish consumption advisories
Fish provide a valuable source of beneficial nutrients and are an excellent source of low fat protein. However, fish are also the primary source of methylmercury exposure in humans. Selenium often co-occurs with mercury and there is some evidence that selenium can protect against mercury toxicity yet States issue fish consumption advisories based...Cusack, Leanne K.; Eagles-Smith, Collin A.; Harding, Anna K.; Kile, Molly; Stone, Dave
Season, molt, and body size influence mercury concentrations in grebes
We studied seasonal and physiological influences on mercury concentrations in western grebes (Aechmophorus occidentalis) and Clark's grebes (A. occidentalis) across 29 lakes and reservoirs in California, USA. Additionally, at three of these lakes, we conducted a time series study, in which we repeatedly sampled grebe blood mercury concentrations...Hartman, Christopher; Ackerman, Joshua T.; Herzog, Mark; Eagles-Smith, Collin A.
Bioenergetics models to estimate numbers of larval lampreys consumed by smallmouth bass in Elk Creek, Oregon
Nonnative fishes have been increasingly implicated in the decline of native fishes in the Pacific Northwest. Smallmouth Bass Micropterus dolomieu were introduced into the Umpqua River in southwest Oregon in the early 1960s. The spread of Smallmouth Bass throughout the basin coincided with a decline in counts of upstream-migrating Pacific Lampreys...Schultz, Luke; Heck, Michael; Kowalski, Brandon M; Eagles-Smith, Collin A.; Coates, Kelly C.; Dunham, Jason
A critical evaluation of the utility of eggshells for estimating mercury concentrations in avian eggs
Eggshells are a potential tool for non-lethally sampling contaminant concentrations in bird eggs, yet few studies have examined their utility to represent mercury exposure. We assessed mercury concentrations in eggshell components for 23 bird species and determined whether they correlated with total mercury (THg) in egg contents. We designed a...Peterson, Sarah; Ackerman, Joshua T.; Eagles-Smith, Collin A.; Hartman, C. Alex; Herzog, Mark P.
Mercury exposure may influence fluctuating asymmetry in waterbirds
Variation in avian bilateral symmetry can be an indicator of developmental instability in response to a variety of stressors, including environmental contaminants. The authors used composite measures of fluctuating asymmetry to examine the influence of mercury concentrations in 2 tissues on fluctuating asymmetry within 4 waterbird species....Herring, Garth; Eagles-Smith, Collin A.; Ackerman, Joshua T.
Mercury bioaccumulation in estuarine fishes: Novel insights from sulfur stable isotopes
Estuaries are transitional habitats characterized by complex biogeochemical and ecological gradients that result in substantial variation in fish total mercury concentrations (THg). We leveraged these gradients and used carbon (δ13C), nitrogen (δ15N), and sulfur (δ34S) stable isotopes to examine the ecological and biogeochemical processes...Willacker, James J.; Eagles-Smith, Collin A.; Ackerman, Joshua T.
Mercury contamination and stable isotopes reveal variability in foraging ecology of generalist California gulls
Environmental contaminants are a concern for animal health, but contaminant exposure can also be used as a tracer of foraging ecology. In particular, mercury (Hg) concentrations are highly variable among aquatic and terrestrial food webs as a result of habitat- and site-specific biogeochemical processes that produce the bioaccumulative form,...Peterson, Sarah; Ackerman, Joshua T.; Eagles-Smith, Collin A.
Ground squirrel shooting and potential lead exposure in breeding avian scavengers
Recreational ground squirrel shooting is a popular activity throughout the western United States and serves as a tool for managing ground squirrel populations in agricultural regions. Belding’s ground squirrels (Spermophilus beldingi) are routinely shot in California, Nevada, and Oregon across habitats that overlap with breeding avian scavengers....Herring, Garth; Eagles-Smith, Collin A.; Wagner, Mason T.