Detailed Presentation Abstract Schedule

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Wednesday 28 September 2016

Author / Presenter: Chad Cuss
Affiliation: University of Alberta
Student: No

Session: Analytical Developments
Date: Wednesday 28 September 2016
Time: 08:50 – 09:10
Location: Salon 13/14

Abstract:

In aquatic systems, the toxicity of a substance is limited by its bioavailability. Trace metals are distributed among the particulate (> 0.45 µm) and dissolved phases (< 0.45 µm), where dissolved trace metals are more bioavailable for most aquatic organisms. Within the dissolved phase, the 'truly dissolved' / primarily ionic species < 1 nm (? 1 kDa) in size are the most bioavailable. However, measuring the relative contribution of different dissolved metal species at environmentally-relevant concentrations has been challenging due to inadequate limits of detection (e.g. ion-selective electrodes) or problems with interferences in complex natural matrices (e.g. voltammetry). These limitations have lead to a reliance on unverified computational models for estimating the concentrations of free species and the development of regulations based on total or dissolved metal concentrations, which are not always adequate indicators of toxicity. Recently, these challenges have been overcome by the combination of advances in analytical methods for size separation at the nanometer scale (i.e. asymmetrical flow field-flow fractionation; AF4), coupling to instruments designed to measure metals at low concentrations (i.e. inductively-coupled mass spectrometry; ICPMS), and specialized methods and conditions for sampling and analysis (i.e. the ultra-clean, metal-free SWAMP facility at the University of Alberta). Importantly, the tunable carrier fluid used in AF4 enables the control of key variables such as pH and ionic strength, so that the natural distribution of dissolved metal species is preserved during analysis. This presentation will discuss the necessity of clean sampling techniques/facilities and the development of a method for determining the distribution of dissolved metal species at environmentally-relevant concentrations using AF4-ICPMS. The value of using actual measurements of dissolved metal species to estimate bioavailability / toxicity will be highlighted. Preliminary results from the analysis of samples collected from the Lower Athabasca River and its tributaries near bitumen mining and refining operations will also be presented.

Author / Presenter: Mark Donner
Affiliation: University of Alberta
Student: Yes

Session: Analytical Developments
Date: Wednesday 28 September 2016
Time: 09:10 – 09:30
Location: Salon 13/14

Abstract:

Arsenic (As) and selenium (Se) are potentially toxic elements that are of concern in aquatic systems due to their known toxicological effects and potential to be mobilized in high concentrations by natural or anthropogenic influences. The unique chemistry of both elements sets them apart from other “heavy metals” as their environmental fate and behaviour, including toxicity, is largely determined by their chemical speciation. While measurements of total As and Se provide important preliminary information, chemical speciation is a crucial component of any study assessing the toxicity of these elements. These measurements are, however, afflicted with unique analytical challenges that become critical when working at trace (i.e., < 1 µg/L) concentrations. For that reason, many environmental monitoring agencies are unable to reliably measure these elements unless the water is severely impacted. This talk reviews some of the current analytical techniques for measuring As and Se, including their biologically relevant species. The focus will be on using modern techniques such as ion chromatography paired with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry equipped with dynamic reaction cell (IC-ICP-DRC-MS). Recent results from a study of water quality in the lower Athabasca River will be used to demonstrate the importance of As and Se redox state speciation and how it relates to other water quality parameters. Analyses from other aquatic systems (natural and industrial impacted) will also be summarized and used as examples.

Author / Presenter: Muhammad Javed
Affiliation: University of Alberta
Student: No

Session: Analytical Developments
Date: Wednesday 28 September 2016
Time: 09:30 – 09:50
Location: Salon 13/14

Abstract:

In recent years, there has been an increasing ecological and human health concern associated with aquatic trace metals. Understanding of trace metals bioavailability in water is important to predict metals toxicity to aquatic life, because metals can be partitioned into dissolved (<0.45µm) and particulate (>0.45µm) forms, where dissolved forms are considered more bioavailable. It has been claimed that open pit mines and upgraders of the Athabasca Bituminous Sands in Alberta are a significant source of Ag, Cd, Pb, Sb and TI to the Athabasca River (AR). As a part of a big project to resolve natural versus anthropogenic inputs to the Lower AR, this study was initiated. In 2014, AR surface water samples were collected from 13 sites along the main stem of the AR, beginning upstream from Fort McMurray, within the industrial zone and travelling downstream toward the Firebag River. In 2015, water samples were collected from all the 13 sites sampled previously plus from some new sites. The main objective of this study was to determine overall trace metal concentrations in the AR water, any potential impact of industrial activities and metal distribution in dissolved and particulate forms. Further fractionation of particulate trace metals into different chemical forms was performed to predict any potential release of trace metals into AR water. The results showed that total concentration (dissolved+particulate) of most of the potentially toxic metals (Cd, Pb, TI) as well as the trace metals known to be enriched in bitumen (V, Ni, Mo, Re) in the AR water were lower than the CCME guidelines for the protection of aquatic life. The dissolved concentrations of Cd, Pb and TI were also low compared to the US-EPA guidelines for the protection of aquatic life. None of the total and dissolved concentrations of any of the trace metals showed any significant difference between upstream, downstream, and within the industrialized zone. Comparing dissolved versus total metals in the AR water over the year; the dissolved metal concentrations remained unchanged. For example, in 2014 dissolved Pb was ~23 ng/l, which was similar to the average dissolved Pb (~26 ng/l) in 2015. However, total metal concentrations varied significantly, ~300 ng/l Pb was found in 2014 compared to ~60 ng/l Pb in 2015. This difference in total concentrations is mainly because of the abundance of suspended solids in the water. Comparing dissolved versus particulate metals, ~80% of most of the total metals (Ag, As, Be, Cd, Cr, Pb,TI) were found in particulate form. The metals fractionation showed that insignificant concentration of trace metals were present in easily available forms, whereas a huge proportion of metals were found in mineral bound forms which are stable under natural environmental conditions. These results provide overall trace metals status in the Lower AR water and have implication in understanding the trace metals mobility and bioavailability in river waters around the world.

Author / Presenter: William Shotyk
Affiliation: University of Alberta
Student: No

Session: Analytical Developments
Date: Wednesday 28 September 2016
Time: 09:50 – 10:10
Location: Salon 13/14

Abstract:

It is well known that typical concentrations of many trace metals of environmental significance (e.g. Ag, Cd, Pb, Sb, Tl) in ancient polar ice, open ocean and deep seawater, as well as uncontaminated groundwaters, are extremely low: at the levels of ng/l and below. Measuring trace metals reliably at these levels requires not only tremendous analytical sensitivity, but more importantly, “ultraclean” lab procedures and protocols to minimize the risks of contamination: from ambient air, reagents, containers and any surfaces (syringes, filters, tubing) that come into contact with standards and samples. Avoiding metals and metal alloys as well as glass are obvious important steps in the process, but not all plastics are created equal: some leach more metal than others (e.g. V from HDPE), and none is perfect. All materials coming into contact with the sample must be acid-cleaned, and establishing clearly defined blank values and limits of detection are a crucial part of the analytical process. In this presentation we provide examples of these procedures and protocols from the new, ultraclean, metal-free SWAMP lab for the study of trace metals in Soil, Water, Air, Manures and Plant: the design of the lab itself and the strategy for maintaining clean air, the use of metal-free, laminar flow Class 100 clean air cabinets for additional air filtration, the production of sub-boiled nitric acid by distillation in high purity quartz for cleaning of plasticware and acidification of water samples, as well as the choice of filters, syringes and sampling containers to minimize leaching of trace metals. We further show how we have applied these techniques to better understand trace metals in the surface and groundwaters of the Lower Athabasca River where there are growing concerns about environmental impacts from upgrading and refining of bitumen. In fact, in the main stem of the river, both upstream and downstream from industry, trace metals such as Ag, Cd, Pb, Sb and Tl are all found at very low levels: at or below the levels reported for bottled waters. For example, in some tributary streams Pb is may be present at the same level (5 ng/l) as ice from the Canadian Arctic more than 5,000 years old. The results obtained to date using ultraclean lab methods suggest that previous work on metals in the environment of the Lower Athabasca watershed have overestimated human impacts by a considerable margin.

Author / Presenter: Heather Dettman
Affiliation: Natural Resources Canada
Student: No

Session: Analytical Developments
Date: Wednesday 28 September 2016
Time: 10:10 – 10:30
Location: Salon 13/14

Abstract:

When crude oils are spilled in water environments, hydrocarbon bioavailability both immediately after a spill and over the long term is of concern. It is important to know benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylenes (BTEX) and polyaromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) contents of the crudes. However, to understand toxicity, it is also important to understand how evaporation, dissolution, biodegradation and oil dispersion impact actual hydrocarbon contents in the water phase both in the immediate and long term. Analytical techniques for hydrocarbons have focused on quantifying saturate and aromatic species up to 40 carbons (C40) in size. However, crude oils consist of hydrocarbons up to and larger than C120. Keeping track (closing mass balance) of crude oil hydrocarbons as they evaporate, biodegrade and interact with sediment is needed to understand the timing and relative rates of these processes that move hydrocarbons into and out of the water system. The timing of these processes after the spill event will likely have different toxic impacts for different biological systems. Analytical methods will be discussed and results shown for tank-scale tests of diluted bitumen products and conventional crude spilled into fresh water containing sediment.

Author / Presenter: Tasha Hall
Affiliation: Golder Associates Ltd.
Student: No

Session: Assessing Natural Variability: Dare to be (Quantifiably) Different
Date: Wednesday 28 September 2016
Time: 08:10 – 08:30
Location: Room 5/6

Abstract:

Characterizing natural variability in aquatic systems is necessary for differentiating anthropogenic and natural changes. Regulatory boards in the Northwest Territories are clear that monitoring programs are to be developed such that they provide a solid foundation for detecting change, assessing impact, and implementing adaptive management. The benefits of adequately characterizing natural variability are clear and widely accepted among stakeholders; however, the approach to defining this is widely variable. Some variation in approach may be warranted, depending on data type and availability. The presentation will outline successes and challenges encountered in defining natural variability within the northern regulatory framework. Topics will be related to data collection, filling data gaps, consistency in application and flexibility in methodology, followed by recommendations for on-going collaboration on this topic. Participants will be encouraged to provide input and perspective from their work in furtherance of this topic.

Author / Presenter: Bruce Kilgour
Affiliation: Kilgour & Associates Ltd.
Student: No

Session: Assessing Natural Variability: Dare to be (Quantifiably) Different
Date: Wednesday 28 September 2016
Time: 08:30 – 08:50
Location: Room 5/6

Abstract:

A normal range is some fraction of reference data deemed to represent an expected condition. Limits on normal ranges are estimated with error, like other statistics (e.g., mean), which varies depending largely on sample size. Direct comparison of a sample to estimated limits of a normal range will, therefore with some frequency, lead to incorrect conclusions about whether a sample is inside or outside the normal range when the sample is near the limit. Those errors can have significant costs and risk implications. When reference data are normally distributed, bounds on normal ranges can be computed using non-central distributions of test statistics (i.e. t). In this paper we illustrate the calculation of tolerance limits that test whether samples are within or outside the normal range using benthic data from the Steepbank River.

Author / Presenter: Dave Huebert
Affiliation: AECOM
Student: No

Session: Assessing Natural Variability: Dare to be (Quantifiably) Different
Date: Wednesday 28 September 2016
Time: 08:50 – 09:10
Location: Room 5/6

Abstract:

Understanding the current baseline chemistry of water and sediment is critical for developing informed environmental decisions. Accurate description of the aquatic environment is an essential component of Environmental Impact Assessment for project development, and later for establishing operating licence requirements. During operations, definition of normal range allows for recognition of any downstream effects for projects with effluent discharge. Determination of current conditions is also required during site remediation, where decisions regarding the level and extent of mitigation are dependent on delineation of contamination. However, developing an understanding of normal range is a challenging undertaking for a number of reasons. Environmental chemistry data are often not normally distributed, which means that data transformations are required prior to use of parametric statistics. Analytical detection limits often result in reporting of non-detect data, which are difficult to incorporate into analytical processes. This problem is compounded when detection limits change over time. Sets of data often contain outliers, that may or may not be due to measurement error, and that can profoundly affect mean and standard deviation. Finally, water and sediment chemistry can change over time and space, either seasonally, or over a period of years. One approach to definition of normal range that is capable of dealing with these analytical challenges is the use of box plots for data analysis. Box plots are non-parametric and so do not require normally distributed data. They can also accommodate a considerable amount of non-detect data, and provide a graphical understanding of analytical limits related to these data. Finally, box plots provide a consistent definition of outliers that does not depend on data distribution, but rather on the characteristics of the data itself.

Author / Presenter: Tim Arciszewski
Affiliation: COSIA
Student: No

Session: Assessing Natural Variability: Dare to be (Quantifiably) Different
Date: Wednesday 28 September 2016
Time: 09:10 – 09:30
Location: Room 5/6

Abstract:

A central role of environmental monitoring is identifying meaningful change. This task can be complicated in many ways, but can often be simplified into separating expected, or probable, differences from those that would be unexpected, or improbable if the conditions of the study system are stable. Many techniques are used to examine this question. Many rely on inferential statistics and p-values to accomplish this, while others also include an estimated Critical Effect Size (CES) . Environmental Effects Monitoring is a good example of an approach that uses both. Although the CESs used in EEM are generally applicable and are an important step, they may be uncertain in specific scenarios. We, unfortunately, cannot specifically identify when CES are useful and where they may not be. There are, however, some characteristics, such as small sample sizes that can clearly affect their validity. While several remedies are available to address uncertainty, including the integration of Confirmation cycles into monitoring, further refining CESs can also contribute to reducing errors. Iterated bootstrapping is one option that offers many advantages over other trigger development techniques. Intervals calculated from single bootstrapped intervals often have high coverage accuracy and beneficial convergence properties, but not always. Both aspects do, however, improve with double or triple bootstrapping. Iterated bootstrapping can, however, be computationally heavy and requires estimating resample (and re-re-sample) sizes. While not infallible, iterated bootstrapping may be a powerful tool in an adaptive monitoring program.

Author / Presenter: Tim Vickers Mary Murdoch
Affiliation: Stantec Consulting Ltd.
Student: No

Session: Assessing Natural Variability: Dare to be (Quantifiably) Different
Date: Wednesday 28 September 2016
Time: 09:30 – 09:50
Location: Room 5/6

Abstract:

Irving Pulp and Paper, Limited (IPP) discharges mill effluent into the Reversing Falls, a unique hydrological feature located at the confluence of the Saint John River and the Bay of Fundy. The magnitude of the Bay of Fundy tides forces the falls to reverse its flow direction twice each day, resulting in an extremely dynamic estuarine environment with wide swings in flow direction and velocity, water depth, temperature, and salinity. A 2D plume delineation, conducted prior to the initial environmental effects monitoring (EEM) program, suggested that the 1% effluent zone for IPP extended several kilometres upriver on the rising tide and also downstream on the falling tide into Saint John Harbour. IPP is located in an industrial urban setting, in which there are other historical and current municipal and industrial waste water discharges that may also influence the aquatic environment. These factors add to the complexity of EEM study designs and data interpretation. This presentation will trace the path of IPP through the federal EEM decision framework for fish and the benthic invertebrate community (BIC) to its current status and looking forward. For the fish component, IPP recently completed a field study and pilot mesocosm studies, and then shifted to Investigation of Cause (IOC) and Investigation of Solutions (IOS). IOC work conducted during the recent (2013 -2016) EEM program re-evaluated historical field data when BIC effects were determined. Non-mill effluent sources in the vicinity of IPP at the time of the historic field studies included a number of un-treated municipal effluent sources which have recently been consolidated, treated, and shut off as part of a major Harbour Clean-up effort. Additional non-mill sources are identified and described in relation to their potential to influence the BIC. The recent EEM program identified the highly dynamic natural environment as perhaps the major force shaping the BIC structure near Reversing Falls. A better understanding of the vertical and horizontal dispersion of the IPP effluent plume using 3D modeling would be helpful in advancing IOC for the BIC towards potential solutions for fish and the BIC.

Author / Presenter: Rainie Sharpe
Affiliation: Golder Associates
Student: No

Session: Assessing Natural Variability: Dare to be (Quantifiably) Different
Date: Wednesday 28 September 2016
Time: 09:50 – 10:10
Location: Room 5/6

Abstract:

Recent guidance from the Northwest Territories (NWT) Water Boards has encouraged incorporation of an adaptive management approach towards aquatic effects monitoring. The successful implementation of adaptive management requires the inclusion of biologically and ecologically meaningful endpoints to serve as action level triggers, and an understanding of the magnitudes of change in these endpoints that are indicative of natural variability versus change that is due to anthropogenic influence. A ?temporal-reference-normal range? decision matrix was first implemented at the Snap Lake Diamond Mine as part of the fish tissue chemistry component of the Mine?s Aquatic Effects Monitoring Plan (AEMP) in 2013. Low action levels for cesium and thallium were triggered in Lake Trout and Round Whitefish in 2013, and in Lake Chub in 2015 for the same metals. The incorporation of normal range, a quantified estimate of natural variability, into the decision matrix strengthened the confidence with which the action levels were triggered, and successfully identified the need for further investigation into the cause of an increase in thallium and cesium concentrations in fish tissue at Snap Lake. The results of the investigation following the cesium and thallium low action level trigger will be discussed, and the concept of normal range defined as a prediction interval will be presented.

Author / Presenter: Guy Gilron
Affiliation: Borealis Environmental Consulting
Student: No

Session: Effective Communication in Ecotoxicology
Date: Wednesday 28 September 2016
Time: 08:50 – 09:10
Location: Room 15/16

Abstract:

The closing session of last year’s Canadian Ecotoxicity Workshop (CEW) in Saskatoon featured a new, interesting and challenging student competition, called the “Three-Minute Thesis” (3MT). This 3MT competition is now being considered for future CEWs. The challenge in this competition was/is for participants to present their work as effectively, concisely and interestingly as possible – in a simple format – to a diverse, but educated, audience. Even those who have made many presentations at this, and other, scientific conferences for years, were impressed with the quality, format and wide appeal of these presentations: good science delivered in simple, interesting, and in some cases, novel ways. In contrasting these presentations to the traditional format of communicating our work, a higher-level question emerging from this was: “Are we doing the best job we can at communicating the science of ecotoxicology?” This presentation will provide an historical perspective on how we traditionally communicate our science: to our colleagues, our peers, and to the public. The presentation will explore various improvements to the effective communication of content in both platform and poster formats, panel discussions, and interactive sessions, with the objective of making our science more accessible to stakeholders. Moreover, the presentation will highlight the use of new and emerging tools and technologies, including interactive presentations (including videos), webinars, presentation software, and poster formatting.

Author / Presenter: Joshua Dias
Affiliation: Maxxam Analytics
Student: No

Session: Effective Communication in Ecotoxicology
Date: Wednesday 28 September 2016
Time: 09:10 – 09:30
Location: Room 15/16

Abstract:

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” These simple words from Albert Einstein can serve as a template for effective presentations. In general, scientific presentations focus primarily on data and results and lack emphasis on the bigger picture. These presentations commonly provide narrow glimpses of the project instead of the entire story or context, resulting in a failure to resonate with the broader audience. The information transcribed from the laboratory to business development to the end user changes dramatically due to the change in audience. The Information the end user needs or values differ from how it is presented at the bench level. At the core, presentations should be a story-telling initiative and an opportunity to discuss the bigger picture. Through past experience with marketing, account management and business development roles, I have worked closely with laboratory personnel to craft value propositions for clients and businesses. The goal of this session is to provide lessons and takeaways to enhance presentation skills within the scientific community. More importantly, the hope is that presenters become story tellers, such that the non-scientific community understands the importance of the data being presented and it?s shared in way that is engaging and hits home to each individual person. In short, what is your elevator pitch for your research?

Author / Presenter: Stella Swanson
Affiliation: Swanson Environmental Strategies
Student: No

Session: Effective Communication in Ecotoxicology
Date: Wednesday 28 September 2016
Time: 09:30 – 09:50
Location: Room 15/16

Abstract:

Scientists and the public can have very different perspectives about risk, especially the level of risk that is considered acceptable. Scientists are often surprised and frustrated when their carefully constructed risk assessment results are regarded as untrustworthy, irrelevant, or just plain wrong. The public are often adamant that no risk is acceptable. This is especially true for risks associated with high uncertainty, high dread , and/or a perceived low level of public control (e.g. nuclear projects). It is also true for situations where risks are distributed over large temporal and spatial scales, persistent, or delayed. Discrepancies between those who enjoy the benefits and those who bear the risks is another key factor in risk acceptability. However, the most fundamental cause of low or zero risk tolerance is the violation of social or cultural interests and values. Assessment and management of complex risks in a high-value environment requires discourse about risk acceptability. The determination of acceptable risk requires meaningful engagement with Indigenous peoples and public stakeholders. These discussions must acknowledge that there are different legitimate viewpoints regarding risk acceptability. There are never any guarantees; however, a risk assessment process that has involvement and input from Indigenous peoples and the public from the beginning of the process through to the characterization of the risk has a much better chance of acceptance. This engagement should start with an examination of values. Acknowledgement of values (and the bias associated with values) is fundamental to transparent decision-making. In some circumstances, values are so high and so intensely felt that any risk will remain unacceptable. It is important to recognize these situations and move on to alternatives, preferably earlier rather than later. If sufficient trust has been established via engagement in the risk assessment process, risk mitigation and the achievement of an acceptable level of risk may be possible even in high-value and high-uncertainty situations. However, benefits must be tangible, some involvement in the control of risk must be possible, and there must be credible adaptive management plans for risks that may be delayed or more widely dispersed than expected. Cumulative risks must also be considered in a meaningful manner, with no reliance on ?creeping baselines?. In summary, the definition of acceptable risk always involves risk balancing and trade-offs and some risks may be deemed to be intolerable, no matter how low they are deemed to be by scientists. This is a difficult lesson to learn and accept.

Author / Presenter: Kristin Bianchini
Affiliation: University of Saskatchewan
Student: Yes

Session: Wildlife Toxicology and Population Implications
Date: Wednesday 28 September 2016
Time: 08:10 – 08:30
Location: Salon 10

Abstract:

Many shorebirds are currently failing to sufficiently fuel prior to departure for migration, which may be contributing to population declines in these birds. Proper fuelling is important because it increases a bird’s probability of surviving migration and it determines migration speeds, which are correlated with reproductive performance. The polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) found in oil pollution have the potential to interfere with avian pre-migratory fuelling physiology. However, a link between PAH exposure and impaired pre-migratory fuelling has yet to be established. Our objective was to determine whether PAH contamination affects pre-migratory fuelling in two shorebird species. We captured over 35 Red Knots (Calidris canutus) and over 375 Sanderling (Calidris alba) from Chaplin Lake, SK, a relatively uncontaminated site, and from the Gulf of Mexico, which is subject to recurring oil spills. We determined plasma PAH levels using an immunoassay, body condition using mass and fat score measurements, and fuelling status using plasma metabolite levels. We also used Motus radio telemetry array technology to track the arrival, departure, and stopover duration of over 20 Red Knots and over 75 Sanderling. We found that birds in the Gulf of Mexico had longer minimum stopover durations, which were associated with body condition and fuelling status at capture. Using a combination of captive dosing and field studies at multiple sites, we are currently testing the hypothesis that higher plasma PAH concentrations are associated with altered plasma metabolite profiles, body conditions, and stopover durations. This work will inform shorebird conservation by providing valuable insight into a potential cause of long distance migratory shorebird declines.

Author / Presenter: Louise Champoux
Affiliation: Environment and Climate Change Canada
Student: No

Session: Wildlife Toxicology and Population Implications
Date: Wednesday 28 September 2016
Time: 08:30 – 08:50
Location: Salon 10

Abstract:

The Great Blue Heron (GBHE) nests in many colonies along the St. Lawrence River, in freshwater, estuarine and marine habitats. Since 1991, GBHE eggs were collected as part of an environmental monitoring program in colonies distributed in five regions: in-land, fluvial, upper estuary, lower estuary and Gulf, and analyzed for mercury (Hg), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), persistent organic contaminants (OCs) and brominated diphenyl ethers (BDEs) as well as stable isotopes ?13C and ?15N. In addition, contaminants (OCs, PCBs, BDEs and Hg) were measured in the blood of GBHE nestlings and Hg was analyzed in feathers. The effects of long term exposure to persistent contaminants were monitored with biomarkers known to be essential for growth, development and reproduction: retinoid (vitamin A) and thyroid hormones (T3 and T4). In eggs, most contaminants declined significantly over time in most regions. Higher levels of Hg, PCBs, OCs and PBDEs were observed in freshwater colonies than in estuarine colonies, both in eggs and in nestlings. Levels of ÓBDEs in eggs remained high in the fluvial region until 2001 and declined after. Great blue heron eggs showed a large range in ä13C and ä15N values, reflecting the broad feeding strategies of wading birds. Fluvial and in-land regions showed the lowest values for ä13C and ä15N while the Gulf exhibited the highest values. ä13C showed a significant decrease over time in the fluvial region and a significant increase in the Gulf region; these results indicate that with time, birds from fluvial colonies became progressively associated with a carbon depleted diet indicative of an aquatic food web while birds from Gulf colonies were foraging on more inshore preys than in the past. ä15N showed a significant decrease in the fluvial region and a significant increase in the upper estuary; this indicates that in fluvial colonies, birds tended to feed at a lower trophic level while herons from the upper estuary colonies feed at a higher trophic level than in the past. In the freshwater colonies, both ä13C and ä15N showed significant correlations with ÓPCBs and ÓPBDEs, but not in the estuarine and marine colonies. Concentrations of contaminants in heron nestlings were generally below critical thresholds reported for adverse effects observed on reproduction or survival. Levels of retinol, dehydroretinol (DROH), thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) were generally higher in estuarine colonies than in freshwater colonies. Retinol concentrations were negatively related to ÓPCBs while DROH concentrations were negatively related to Hg and total and free T3 concentrations were negatively related to ÓPBDEs. Although our observations of number of nests and nestlings indicated stable populations, the GBHE nestlings from freshwater colonies, exposed to relatively high concentrations of a large cocktail of contaminants, had reduced levels of retinol and thyroid hormones, which could impair their development and fitness.

Author / Presenter: Cornelya Klutsch
Affiliation: Trent University
Student: No

Session: Wildlife Toxicology and Population Implications
Date: Wednesday 28 September 2016
Time: 08:50 – 09:10
Location: Salon 10

Abstract:

Population genetic tools for non-invasive monitoring of North American river otter population dynamics Genetic monitoring of wildlife populations is increasingly applied to assess wildlife population health and temporal changes in population dynamics to aid protection of biodiversity. In this context, non-invasively collected fecal samples for genetic analysis have become an important monitoring tool in wildlife management, population and conservation genetics, and phylogeography. At the same time, fecal samples provide other essential information such as contaminant burdens, hormone level responses, and intestinal parasite loads and therefore, fecal genotyping presents a significant step linking genetic data to other wildlife monitoring results. This may be especially true for elusive species like the North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) for which population size estimates and migration rates have been difficult to obtain. Hence, the optimization of fecal genotyping protocols holds the promise to identify unique individuals (i.e., repeated collections of the same animals can be identified) to establish a diverse range of population genetic diversity estimates in order to study impacts of, for example, contaminated habitats on population dynamics. However, genetic amplification success rates from river otter scats have been low (12 – 31%) and therefore, hamper non-invasive monitoring efforts in river otters. Here, we present a refined method of collecting non-invasively fecal samples in the field for North American river otters which is cost-efficient (i.e., no shipping on ice or liquid nitrogen) and fairly easy to implement; therefore, the method might be applicable for wide-ranging indigenous community-based monitoring programs or citizen science initiatives. Finally, we discuss how population genetic tools may aid monitoring efforts in this and other species.

Author / Presenter: Kristin Eccles
Affiliation: University of Ottawa
Student: Yes

Session: Wildlife Toxicology and Population Implications
Date: Wednesday 28 September 2016
Time: 09:10 – 09:30
Location: Salon 10

Abstract:

Current screening guidelines for mercury body burden level in furbearing mammals were set in the 1990s with little revision or evaluation since. These guidelines are typically based on laboratory feeding studies with low sample sizes. Since guideline development, a lot of mercury data has been generated on dose-effect relationships for furbearers, particularly river otter and mink. We developed a meta-regression model combining sample averages of diet, fur, brain, liver, kidney, and muscle mercury tissue concentrations and their standard errors using data from peer-reviewed literature. Data from over 6000 samples, pooled across 16 studies, and 96 sampling sites in North America and Europe were used to create the weighted regressions, individually regressing each mean tissue concentration against another. The models selected to represent each pathway were chosen based on a balance of meeting weighted least square assumption of residual homoscedasticity, model fit (AICc), and parsimony for ease of use and interpretation of the conversion factor. The regressions beta coefficients were used to create the compressive meta-regression; 16 regressions were derived for each river otter and mink. All regressions were statistically significant at a 95% confidence interval and on average could explain 85% of the variance. The models were also validated using an external data set of individual mercury tissue concentrations generated through other monitoring programs. Using this model to evaluate the current 30 ?g/g and, more conservative, 20 ?g/g fur mercury screening guideline indicates that 30 ?g/g, is not conservative enough. At this fur concentration levels, the estimated brain mercury concentrations surpass values shown to alter brain neurochemistry. The model results suggest that a more conservative guideline of 20 ?g/g is more appropriate for the protection of more sensitive furbearers. This model can also be used to derive conversion factors for mercury concentrations in fur versus internal organs, thus eliminating the need to collect invasive tissues, e.g. brain for future monitoring programs.

Author / Presenter: Pamela Martin
Affiliation: EWHD
Student: No

Session: Wildlife Toxicology and Population Implications
Date: Wednesday 28 September 2016
Time: 09:30 – 09:50
Location: Salon 10

Abstract:

Cootes Paradise is a coastal wetland located at the west end of the Hamilton Harbour Area of Concern in western Lake Ontario, that has been heavily impacted by population growth, industiralization and land use changes that have impaired water quality. Stressors include excess nutrients from agricultural runoff and inputs of contaminants from an upstream waste water treatment plant and combined sewer overflows from tributaries draining into the marsh. Since municipal effluent can contain hormones, pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) that may act as endocrine-disrupting chemicals, exposure to these compounds may result in adverse effects for aquatic wildlife. To examine this more closely, an in-situ caging study was conducted at multiple locations in Cootes Paradise in 2014 and 2015 using northern leopard frogs (Rana pipiens). Frog eggs were placed into cages at study locations and one upstream reference site and then monitored for hatching success, tadpole deformities, survival to metamorphosis, and body size and deformities of newly-transformed froglets. Five replicate cages were set up at three Cootes Paradise locations in 2014 and five locations in 2015. Mean hatching success of leopard frog eggs ranged from 3% to 67% at Cootes Paradise locations in the two study years and was significantly lower at West Pond, Boathouse and Westdale Inlet, but not at the Upper Paradise Pond site, compared to the reference site. Mean percentages of tadpoles with deformities were not significantly different between Cootes Paradise locations and the reference site in both study years. Survival to metamorphosis in leopard frogs was relatively high in cages at Upper Paradise Pond and the reference site and lower at the West Pond, Boathouse and Spencer Creek sites. No gross morphological deformities were found in any newly-transformed froglets at the end of this study. Gonads from male frogs were also examined for an intersex condition, i.e., the presence of testicular oocytes, in 2014. While only seven male frogs from West Pond could be assessed in total, three had oocytes and of these, two were exceptional in that they contained large aggregates of oocytes that were similar in structure to those found in female frogs. Nitrate concentrations in water at cage locations were consistently highest at West Pond for every biweekly collection and exceeded concentrations associated with lethal and sublethal effects in amphibians in the laboratory. Hormones and PPCPs were detected in relatively higher amounts in water at West Pond in 2014 and 2015 based on the results of Polar Organic Chemical Integrative Samplers deployed at cage locations. Effects found in frogs from West Pond (a shallow floodplain pond) may be related to increased exposure to chemical stressors since the majority of its water is from the wastewater treatment plant. Findings from this study is used in the assessment of the status of wildlife in the Hamilton Harbour Area of Concern.

Author / Presenter: Cameron Toth
Affiliation: University of Calgary
Student: Yes

Session: Wildlife Toxicology and Population Implications
Date: Wednesday 28 September 2016
Time: 09:50 – 10:10
Location: Salon 10

Abstract:

Large volumes of oil sands process affected water (OSPW) are produced by surface mining of the oil sands in Northern Alberta. Given the economic importance of the oil sands in Canada, it is vital to develop effective methods for risk assessment and remediation of OSPW. Previous studies have shown that OSPW is both acutely and chronically toxic and can be lethal at higher concentrations to aquatic organisms. However no standard operating procedure (SOP) exists for evaluating the lethal and sub-lethal toxic effects of OSPW. Therefore the first objective of the present study was to develop an SOP for assessing the toxicities of both the acid-extractable organic (AEO) fraction and whole OSPW in zebrafish embryos using the robust morphometric biomarkers. We then used the same SOP for estimating the no observed effect concentration (NOEC) following phosphate biostimulation of OSPW to evaluate if phosphate biostimulation is an effective remediation technique for improvements in tailings pond management. Some of the morphometric parameters investigated in this study included embryo length, eye diameter, yolk utilization, hemorrhage, swim bladder non-inflation, mechanical response to an external stimulus, pericardial and yolk sac edema, as well as malformation of the spine. Our results showed significant variations and sensitivities to both AEOs and OSPW before remediation depending on the zebrafish stage of development. Moreover, significant differences in OSPW toxicity were observed from distinct tailings ponds using these morphological end points. Our results also showed significant reductions in the frequency of abnormalities in the most sensitive endpoints previously identified following exposure to increasing concentrations of phosphate bio stimulated AEOs and OSPW compared to untreated OSPW. In addition, acute exposure to phosphate biostimulated AEOs OSPW was significantly less lethal to developing zebrafish relative to untreated OSPW. The present study identified and validated a number of sensitive morphological endpoints in zebrafish embryos that can be used for health impact assessment and toxicity monitoring of OSPW. Furthermore, our biomarkers are an effective means of estimating the efficacy of biological remediation to reduce toxicity of OSPW. Our findings also demonstrate that combination of microorganisms and phosphate biostimulation provide an effective passive method of OSPW remediation which should aid in the development of more acceptable and much needed sustainable methods of surface-mining oil sands management in Northern Alberta.

Author / Presenter: Vince Palace
Affiliation: IISD-Experimental Lakes Area
Student: No

Session: Wildlife Toxicology and Population Implications
Date: Wednesday 28 September 2016
Time: 10:10 – 10:30
Location: Salon 10

Abstract:

There is increasing pressure to develop alternative methods to assess the hazards posed by contaminants to wildlife while also reducing the number of lethal sampling events using wild animals. Opportunistic sampling was conducted to collect tissues from angler-harvested resident white sturgeon in San Francisco Bay, with the ultimate goal of developing a non-lethal method to assess exposure to inorganic contaminants. Specifically, this population of sturgeon is thought to be at risk to accumulate elevated concentrations of selenium from their diet, which predominantly consists of overbite clams (Potamocorbula amurensis). Soft tissues (eg. muscle, liver, or ovary) are typically analyzed to determine exposure, but ongoing excretion, metabolism and tissue redistribution preclude resolving any temporal information from these analyses. Time resolved exposure can be determined using micro-chemical analysis of otoliths, but this requires lethal sampling. Pectoral fin rays also contain annual growth rings, but can be sampled non-lethally and require no special preservation for micro-chemical analysis. However, the relationship between trace elements in the bony matrix of otoliths and fin rays is not yet known. As part of a collaborative study, 27 and 22 adult white sturgeon were collected from San Francisco Bay in Feb 2015 and 2016, respectively. Selenium, as well as Zn, Sr, Hg, Pb and Ca (internal standard) were analyzed in annual growth zones of pectoral fin rays and otoliths from these fish using continuous LA-ICP-MS. Relationships between concentrations of Se in soft tissues (liver, muscle and ovary), otoliths and pectoral fin rays will be presented. Fin rays may represent a relatively simple non-lethal tissue sample to establish temporal exposure to several elements in white sturgeon from San Francisco Bay.

Author / Presenter: Anita Masse
Affiliation: University of Saskatchewan
Student: Yes

Session: Playle Awards
Date: Wednesday 28 September 2016
Time: 10:50 – 11:20
Location: Salon 8/9

Abstract:

Selenium (Se) is a contaminant of potential concern in aquatic systems due to its efficient incorporation into food webs, potential for bioaccumulation at higher trophic levels, and role as a developmental toxicant in oviparous vertebrates. Adverse reproductive effects in fishes and birds have been the primary focus of Se research thus far, while studies focusing on Se toxicity in amphibians are severely lacking. A generational bioassay was performed to evaluate the effects of elevated in ovo Se exposure via maternal transfer on early and late stage tadpole development in addition to the overall fitness of adult X. laevis females after a chronic dietary exposure to increasing concentrations of L-selenomethionine (SeMet). The results revealed elevated in ovo Se exposure increased the frequency and severity of morphological abnormalities during early tadpole development with minimal effect on hatchability or mortality. Late stage tadpole survival and growth was unaffected by in ovo Se exposure; however, those in the highest dose group were more likely to be at earlier stages of development despite no difference in time to metamorphosis. In addition, endpoints related to adult female fitness showed no significant differences among treatment groups. X. laevis has increased tolerance to elevated levels of in ovo and dietary Se when compared to other oviparous vertebrates studied to date; however, further research is necessary to determine whether X. laevis is a tolerant, average or sensitive species among amphibians.