Daniel Cain


Dan Cain is a research biologist with the USGS Water Resources Mission Area in Menlo Park, CA. Dan conducts basic and applied research of processes driving metal bioaccumulation dynamics and toxicity in aquatic animals with the overarching objective of advancing scientific understanding of how metal contamination disrupts surface water ecosystems. In addition to advancing environmental science, generally, the information gained by the research is expected to reduce uncertainties in the assessment and management of risk posed by metal contamination. Presently, his research is examining geochemical factors affecting the bioavailability and toxicity of solid-phase metals as part of a multidiscipline effort to better characterize the ecological risks of metal mining.  



M.A. Biology, San Jose State University

B.A. Biology, San Jose State University


Metal Bioavailability in Aquatic Environments

This research addresses gaps in understanding of the physical, geochemical, and biological processes that control the exposure to and bioavailability of metals to endemic populations of aquatic organisms, and the physiological processes that moderate the accumulation and toxicity of metals within and among taxa. For example, laboratory studies develop methods to identify metal exposure pathways, geochemical properties controlling metal bioavailability from aqueous and solid phases, and intrinsic (biological) processes affecting bioaccumulation and toxicity. Experimental protocols are created or adapted from existing methods to meet project objectives. Long-term field studies, for example in San Francisco Bay and the Clark Fork Basin, MT, provide data and samples to test theoretical models, develop empirical models, apply diagnostics (such as bioindicators of exposure and effects), and support regional and national water quality programs.