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.



Cain, D.J., Croteau, M-N., Fuller, C. C., and Ringwood, A.H., 2016, Dietary uptake of Cu sorbed to hydrous iron oxide is linked to cellular toxicity and feeding inhibition in a benthic grazer. Environmental Science and Technology.http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.5b04755 [Link]

Cain, D.J., Thompson, J.K., Crauder, J., Parchaso, F., Kleckner, A.E., Dyke, J., Hornberger, M.I., and Luoma, S.N. 2015, Near-field receiving water monitoring of trace metals and a benthic community near the Palo Alto Regional Water Quality Control Plant in south San Francisco Bay, California, 2014, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015-1199, 79 p., http://dx.do.org/10.3133/ofr20151199. [Link

Croteau, M.N., Cain, D.J., and Fuller, C.C., 2013, Novel and nontraditional use of stable isotopic traces to study metal bioavailability from natural particles: Environmental Science and Technology, v. 47, p. 3424-3431.

Cain, D.J., Croteau, M.N., and Fuller, C.C., 2013, Dietary bioavailability of Cu sorbed to colloidal hydrous ferric oxide: Environmental Science and Technology, v. 47, p. 2869-2876.

Cain, D., Croteau, M.N., and Luoma, S.N., 2011, Bioaccumulation dynamics and exposure routes of Cd and Cu among species of aquatic mayflies:Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, v. 30, p. 2532-2541

Luoma, S.N., Cain, D.J., and Rainbow, P.S., 2009, Calibrating biomonitors to ecological disturbance: a new techniques for explaining metal effects in natural waters: Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, v. 6, p. 199-209.

Cain, J.D., Buchwalter, D.B., and Luoma, S.N., 2006, Influence of metal exposure history on the bioaccumulation and subcellular distribution of aqueous cadmium in the insect Hydropsyche californica: Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, v. 25, p. 1042-1049.

Cain, D.J., Luoma, S.N., and Wallace, W.G., 2004, Linking metal bioaccumulation of aquatic insects to their distribution patterns in a mining-impacted river: Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, v. 23, p. 1463-1473.

Maret, T. R., Cain, D. J., MacCoy, D. E., and Short, T. M., 2003, Response of benthic invertebrate assemblages to metal exposure and bioaccumulation associated with hard-rock mining in northwestern streams, USA: Journal of the North American Benthological Society, v. 22, p. 598-620.

Cain, D. J., Carter, J. L., Fend, S. V., Luoma, S. N., Alpers, C. N., and Taylor, H. E., 2000, Metal exposure to a benthic macroinvertebrate, Hydropsyche californica, related to mine drainage in the Sacramento River:  Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, v. 57, p. 380-390.

Cain, D J., Luoma SN, 1998, Metal exposures to native populations of the caddisfly Hydropsyche (Trichoptera: Hydropsychidae) determined from cytosolic and whole body metal exposures: Hydrobiologia, v. 386, p. 103-117.

Cain, D. J., Luoma, S. N., and Axtmann, E. V., 1995, The influence of gut content in aquatic insects on assessments of environmental metal contamination. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, v. 52, p. 2736-2746.

Cain, D. J., Luoma, S. N., Carter, J. L., and Fend, S. V., 1992, Aquatic insects as bioindicators of trace element contamination in cobble-bottom river and streams: Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, v. 49, p. 2141-2154.

Cain, D. J., and Luoma, S. N., 1990, Influence of seasonal growth, age and environmental exposure on Cu and Ag in a bivalve indicator, Macoma balthica, in San Francisco Bay: Marine Ecology Progress Series, v. 60, p. 44-45.

Johansson, C., Cain, D. J., and Luoma, S. N., 1986, Variability in the fractionation of Cu, Ag, and Zn among cytosolic proteins in the bivalve Macoma balthica: Marine Ecology Progress Series, v. 28, p. 87-97.