Chairs: Raine Sharpe, Golder Associates Ltd.; Gerald Tetreault, Environment and Climate Change Canada


This session will build on the success of last year’s session relating to adaptive management and specifically, the various metrics and scenarios that scientists and statisticians are implementing to define and quantify natural variability in the environment. Doing this well is critical to a) properly assessing change and environmental impacts, and b) appropriately responding to change, when it occurs. Often interpretation of environmental data is challenged by process of the migration into technically complicated statistical processes. The need to communicate the outcomes of these complicated analyses to stakeholders who may have alternate interpretations of the data, especially when decisions appear based on incomprehensible (to the lay person) metrics, is a real challenge. Presentations may include topics such as: regulatory perspectives and/or examples, proponent examples and/or feedback, philosophical considerations for building trust and supporting effective adaptive management (including the incorporation of Traditional Knowledge, if possible), or different ways the concepts of natural variability are being included in various environmental monitoring scenarios.

Chairs: Amy Gainer, University of Saskatchewan; Natalie Feisthaur, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Gladys Stephenson, Aquaterra Consulting Inc. and University of Guelph; Pooja Arora, University of Guelph


Contaminated soils impact both human health and the environment. Healthy soil is a valuable resource with the capacity to support or provide ecosystem services necessary for life. Maintaining soils with a healthy functioning ecosystem is the primary goal of risk assessors whether they be from government, industry or academia. The focus of this session is to better understand the interaction between the contaminants in soil and non-contaminant variables that have the potential to influence the fate, behaviour and effects of these contaminants. We invite scientists and managers from government, industry or academia to showcase their work with industrial, agricultural, natural or urban soils. Studies performed in laboratory or field settings under the following topics are welcomed: soil remediation; soil ecology; ecotoxicology with microorganisms, plants and soil invertebrates; human health soil toxicology; fate and transport in soils; risk communication as it relates to soil contamination and site management; emerging soil contaminants; and, advances in soil toxicity test methods or risk assessment. Through this session, we aim to integrate knowledge from government, industry and academia to improve and advance the state of contaminated soil assessment and site management.

Chairs: Greg Pyle, University of Lethbridge; Parastoo Razmara, University of Lethbridge; Keith Tierney, University of Alberta


An animal’s behaviour integrates its external environment with its internal physiology. This integration can reflect the ecological fitness of the animal, particularly under changing or challenging environmental conditions. Researchers have begun to appreciate behavioural endpoints as sensitive bioindicators in contaminated environments. However, implementing behavioural endpoints in a regulatory context has remained elusive owing to a lack of standardized protocols that are suitable for compliance testing purposes. Moreover, technological advances for detecting contaminant-induced behavioural changes have led to increasing numbers of behaviours affected by contaminants in a wider range of species. Establishing criteria for choosing the most suitable species and developing standardized behavioural testing protocols for testing the most ecologically relevant endpoints remains a challenge in this field. This session proposes to address some of the most important issues facing environmental managers today in terms of how to implement behavioural toxicological endpoints as regulatory tools. We aim to attract researchers from government, industry and academia to provide a wide range of perspectives on these challenging issues. By showcasing research that focuses on cutting-edge behavioural testing and analysis, we can initiate an important dialogue about how these techniques can improve our ability to protect potentially threatened ecosystems.

Chairs: Garrett Morandi and Kevin White, University of Saskatchewan; Richard Frank, Environment and Climate Change Canada


Rapid development within Canada’s oil and gas industries has resulted in an increased demand for transportation of bitumen and natural gas-related products, necessitating assessment of potential impacts on regional, terrestrial, and aquatic ecosystems. The complexity and diversity of source materials and the by-products of extraction and refining processes has prompted investigations to gain a better understanding of their chemical composition and toxicological risk. Additionally, this rapid expansion has driven the development of novel oil and gas reclamation and remediation strategies, as well as environmental monitoring programs, to ensure the sustainable development of these resources.

A full-day session dedicated to improving understanding of the toxicity and chemical composition of oil and gas contaminants, as well as development of environmental monitoring and reclamation strategies, will provide a forum for researchers from academia, government, and industry to present their findings and advance the science in this diverse field. This proposed session will prove to be an excellent addition to this year’s Program by highlighting the breadth of research in the fields of toxicology, chemistry, and engineering collectively working towards ensuring the sustainable development of Canada’s oil and gas resources.

Chairs: Melanie Raby, University of Guelph; Lisa Kennedy and Kathleen Stevak, Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change


Aquatic organisms are chronically exposed to low levels of persistent or constantly released contaminants in our environment. While short-term toxicity tests are beneficial in detecting high levels of contamination, they may not be as useful in identifying effects of moderately contaminated sediments or waters. Long-term sediment and water-only toxicity tests allow us to study cumulative sub-lethal effects such as changes in organism growth, reproduction, and behaviour. Chronic tests are resource-intensive, but are paramount to studying environmentally-relevant concentrations of contaminants. This session will showcase recent research into chronic effects on aquatic species, present method developments and optimizations in chronic toxicity testing, and explore challenges faced in these long-term studies.

Chairs: Jan Mennigen, University of Ottawa; Paul Craig, University of Waterloo


There is growing interest in the possible wildlife threat posed by endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which are substances in our environment, food, and consumer products that interfere with hormone biosynthesis, metabolism, or action resulting in a deviation from normal homeostatic control. This session aims to present a cross-section of recent advances in endocrine disrupting research in wildlife and relevant laboratory model studies, in order to provide a state-of the art overview of scientific knowledge relevant to different stakeholders including academic researchers, industry and regulatory agencies.

Chairs: Kirsty Gurney and Shane de Solla, Environment and Climate Change Canada; Katelyn Luff, University of Saskatchewan


Free-ranging wildlife species are exposed to a variety of contaminants across their geographic ranges and throughout their annual life cycles, and ecosystem-level studies often highlight large variability – over space and time – in body burdens of chemicals of concern. To identify and predict potential effects of contaminants on wildlife health, identifying environmental (i.e. climate) and ecological (i.e. life history) factors that influence this variability is critical. Such drivers of contaminant exposure, however, likely have additive and interactive effects, at multiple spatial and temporal scales. Such complexities will be most effectively understood through integrative research that combines robust observational and experimental datasets. Although logistical constraints can preclude such approaches, studies in ecotoxicology are becoming increasingly collaborative, compiling and synthesizing data across a range of disciplines that include biological and physical sciences.

Chairs: Mehrdad Hajibabaei, University of Guelph; Tom Edge, Environment and Climate Change Canada


Environmental assessment and monitoring programs typically require biodiversity information at three levels: target species (e.g. endangered species, invasive species, pathogens), bioindicator assemblages (e.g. vegetation, macroinvertebrates) and whole communities. This information should be consistently observed in a spatio-temporal framework suitable for the question being investigated. For example, the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN) supports collection of benthic macroinvertebrate data through a network of local, regional and national partners to monitor the status of Canadian freshwater ecosystems. With a large number of sampling locations and a need for timely delivery of assessment and monitoring results (many of them linked to socio-economic activities) stakeholders are faced with significant challenges in generating accurate and timely biodiversity data. The use of genetic information has revolutionized biodiversity analysis from elucidating deep branches of the Tree of Life to identifying species through standardized genetic markers (DNA barcodes). More recently, the advancement of high-throughput sequencing has provided the capacity to gain biodiversity information from assemblage or whole communities from bulk environmental samples such as soil, water or benthos. Projects are now underway to apply and integrate genomic tools in various environmental and ecological investigations. This session will introduce recent advances in environmental genomics research relevant to environmental and ecological assessment and monitoring from target species to whole ecosystems. The session aims to reach a multi-sector audience including academia, government agencies, environmental industry and relevant NGOs.

Chairs: Satyendra Bhavsar, Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change; Rene Shahmohamadloo, University of Guelph


Rational and Goals/Objectives: The accumulation of harmful algal bloom (HAB) toxins has been observed in aquatic biota for decades globally. In the Great Lakes, HAB toxins have been observed for over 10 years, and concerns are being raised about the risk(s) to important sources of freshwater and fisheries. The lack of sound knowledge on HAB toxins in biota may threaten the commercial, recreational and sustenance fisheries of the Great Lakes and may be placing populations who consume a high proportion of fish at risk. Areas of interest in this session may include (but not limited to): the dynamics of uptake, disposition, and toxicity of HAB toxins in biota, and its implications to human health; the relative importance of aqueous versus dietary sources of HAB toxins in fish and invertebrates; the triggering and persistence of HAB toxins from point and non-point sources of nutrient loading; the ecological and socioeconomic impact of HAB toxins; the impact of HAB toxins on water quality monitoring, assessment, and management practices; and, the role of climate change and ocean acidification in the triggering and persistence of HAB toxins. Abstracts examining these targeted areas are welcome.

Chairs: Grazyna Kalabis, Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change; Clare Wiseman, University of Toronto


Along with harming human health, contaminants released into the air can cause a range of environmental effects including impacts on wildlife, trees and crops, as well as contamination of soil, surface water and sediments. Persistent toxic air pollutants are of particular concern in aquatic ecosystems given their potential to accumulate in sediments and biomagnify in the food chain. Some contaminants may be carried by the wind impacting ecological receptors remote from the original point source. This session aims to enhance understanding of the interconnection between the pollutants released to air and impact on ecological receptors. Speakers representing academia, regulatory agencies, industry and consultants will address the impacts of air pollutants from point (e.g., industrial emissions) and non-point (e.g., vehicles) sources on local and regional air quality, on surrounding media and ecological receptors. Specific examples of contaminants, including metals and sulphur dioxide, will be used to illustrate multi-media impacts of air pollutants. An overview of provincial air standards and guidelines development driven by ecological effects will be presented, along with current methodologies used to model and measure concentrations and assess effects in various media. This information will be relevant to practitioners, researchers, policy makers and students.

Chair: Jose “Pepe” Rodriguez-Gil, University of Calgary


The ultimate goal of ecotoxicological research should be to answer the basic question “Is there a problem here?”. This session invites research focused on the integration of environmental/eco-toxicological research and risk assessment (both prospective and retroactive). Research dealing with the application of new tools, or approaches (e.g. ecosystem services, trait based approaches), new scientific concepts, new demands or needs (e.g. species at risk), or new regulatory developments (e.g. endocrine disruptors and hazard based assessments) is welcome. Specific case studies showcasing this integration will be considered.

Chairs: Charles Dumaresq, Mining Association of Canada, Charlene Burnett-Seidel, Cameco Corporation, Helga Sonnenberg, Ecological and Regulatory Solutions Inc., Lisa Ramilo, Ecological and Regulatory Solutions Inc., Nastassia Urien, Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS)


This session will encompass a wide range of aquatic and terrestrial issues related to mining and its potential influence on the environment, and will provide some novel approaches that could be used to assess environmental effects.  Mining operations are required to monitor before, during and after mining to assess baseline conditions and the impacts, if any on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Types of monitoring required include: environmental effects monitoring (EEM) required under the Metal Mining Effluent Regulations (MMER); baseline monitoring to inform environmental assessments; monitoring required under various permit conditions; non-regulated monitoring programs, including monitoring conducted under agreements with Indigenous communities; remediation and reclamation; and, academic research. Routine monitoring is useful, but can only be used to screen potential issues or elements of concern. More advanced work is needed to look at site-specific aspects of water quality, bioavailability, bioaccumulation and ultimately cause of effects or toxicity. In most cases, many of the advanced techniques are conducted by few groups and remain largely within the research realm, or are being investigated for applicability through industrial research oriented projects. The science available to conduct field and/or lab-based aquatic studies to deal with these questions is rapidly advancing. The session will end with a discussion on key topics of interest, including best practices and needed changes, to bring together practitioners, scientists and regulators to share experiences.

Chairs: Rick Scroggins and Leana Van der Vliet, Environment and Climate Change Canada


Data from single-species effects testing using representative taxa are a valuable part of the environmental monitoring of mixed contaminant situations as hazard evaluations within chemical risk assessments (especially CMP priority substances and pesticides) in Canada and elsewhere. On a global level, the science of ecotoxicology is advancing steadily with application of standardized biological test methods, development of new techniques involving single species, community level assays, biochemical/physiological measurements and genomic tools for application in regulatory instruments. These methodologies are also utilized in the management of individual chemicals and mixed contamination at impacted sites. Traditional toxicity test methods have focused on test endpoints such as whole-organism survival, growth, behaviour and reproduction relevant to measuring effects of contaminants in specific environmental media such as water, sediment, wildlife and surface soil. However, new approaches for measuring more subtle environmental exposure or effects such endocrine system disruption, motor skill impairment, delayed organism development, immune system compromise and adverse outcomes pathways (AOP) signalling are emerging using new techniques and technologies (e.g., blood chemistry, liver & gill cell-lines, primary hepatocytes, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, etc.). In this session, we are planning a series of presentations on new testing methodologies with non-traditional endpoints and exploring the application of novel approaches to understanding the possible effects of individual priority substances, groups of selected priority substances, and in situ contaminant mixtures in different environmental media. Case studies which highlight the application of new methods and approaches will also be a component of this session. The target audience includes risk assessors from government or private sector and scientists conducting research to develop new testing or monitoring techniques.

Stacey Robinson and Adrienne Bartlett, Environment and Climate Change Canada


Pesticides are intentionally released into the environment to control a variety of pests. However, non-target organisms are also exposed, either directly during application or via movement of the pesticide in the environment (e.g., spray drift, leaching, run-off). We are interested in showcasing research related to the detection of pesticides in the environment and their effects on non-target wildlife. Specifically, we welcome a full gradient in experimental designs from laboratory to field assessments that investigate molecular to population effects, with an ultimate purpose to discuss the environmental consequences of pesticide exposure to non-target organisms.

Chairs: Caren Helbing, University of Victoria, Vance Trudeau, University of Ottawa

We will provide a cross-section of the OMICS approaches currently used in both model lab species and ecologically-relevant non-model species. This symposium will target those new to these Big-data approaches, as well as students and investigators currently undertaking such analyses. Organisms respond to natural or anthropogenic factors through the detection of such stimulatory or inhibitory inputs by changes in behaviours and physiology. Underlying this are the integrated responses of cells and tissues at the transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomics levels. The ability to quantify the complete response of an organism to an environmental pollutant is becoming more possible. Application for these methods in ecotoxicology is at its infancy and remains challenging but progress is being made, especially for DNA sequencing and mass spectrometry in non-model, but ecologically relevant species. In some species, these methods are well-advanced, while for others, these tools are in the early stages. These methods are beginning to increase our understanding of the comparative responsiveness of species, and of adverse outcome pathways in multiple species.

Chairs: Carolyn Brown and Paul Patrick, Ecometrix Incorporated


There are over 100 power plants and numerous industrial facilities on the shores of the Great Lakes that depend on cooling water for operations. Elevated discharge temperatures have various effects on biota. Growing concerns of the effects of thermal plumes in the environment have resulted in regulators demanding more rigorous proof of negligible effects to sensitive fish populations. This session will explore the challenges in research related to thermal plume effects on aquatic ecosystems as well as the regulations that have resulted. Presentations will cover a broad spectrum, from embryo development to negotiations with regulators on acceptable temperature limits.

Chairs: David Janz, University of Saskatchewan; Chris Kennedy, Simon Fraser University


The first step of virtually all toxicological responses is an interaction between a xenobiotic and a cellular macromolecule (i.e., DNA, protein, lipid), referred to as a molecular initiating event (MIE) in the emerging adverse outcome pathway (AOP) approach. The MIE then causes one or several key events (KE; usually physiological responses at the cell, tissue, or organ level) that translate to apical responses, referred to as adverse outcomes (AO; usually organ, organism, or population level responses). The AOP approach has gained traction in ecological (and biomedical) toxicology as a framework to better quantify the risk associated with exposure to xenobiotics. In this session we invite Abstracts from aquatic toxicologists who employ a mechanistic, integrative approach to investigate such linkages between different levels of biological organisation.

Chairs: Phil Thomas and Julie Bilodeau, University of Ottawa; Shane de Solla, Environment and Climate Change Canada


Despite the reduction in the production and emissions of PAHs, these organic pollutants are still among the most relevant contaminants in terms of exposure to wildlife. PAHs are among the contaminants most frequently triggering the listing of Ares of Concern in the Great Lakes. Similarly, they are among the most toxic components of crude oil or other petroleum products, most importantly PAHs may be the group of compounds that contribute most to the toxicity of air in large urban centres, particularly genotoxicity. Surprisingly, despite decades of research on PAHs, relatively little is known on the exposure and toxicity of PAHs to wildlife, particularly their alkylated or nitrogenated analogs. Free-ranging wildlife species are exposed to PAHs and their analogs through diet, air and dermal exposure. Higher exposure may occur at contaminated sites such as Great Lakes Areas of Concern, the Oil Sands producing region, or following crude oil spills. This session will examine both exposure and toxicity of PAHs and their analogs to wildlife, especially by examining both newer techniques and novel types of questions regarding, and identifying the major gaps in the understanding of the fate, exposure, accumulation and mechanism of action these compounds may have.

Chairs: Ali Azizshirazi, British Columbia Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, Joanne Little, Alberta Environment and Parks, Monica Nowierski, Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Bob Santore, Windward Environmental, Uwe Schneider, Water Quality in the 21st Century, Doug Spry,Environment and Climate Change Canada, Angeline Tillmanns, British Columbia Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, Anne Wilson, Environment and Climate Change Canada

Water quality guidelines are indispensable environmental benchmarks for evaluating risk to water quality.  Water quality guidelines are science-based policy tools that follow detailed derivation protocols that describe the specific methodology that must be followed when developing a guideline.   The first section of this session will investigate advances in the development of guidelines including the use of alternative endpoints such as –omics and behavioral endpoints.

The second section will investigate bioavailability-based approaches for developing water quality guidelines such as the use of Biotic Ligand Models (BLMs).  These methods have gained international attention in recent years due to advantages in incorporating chemical speciation and organism physiology in order to predict the effects of modifying factors on toxicity.  Consideration of modifying factors is challenging at multiple stages in the guideline development and application and approaches for overcoming these challenges are necessary.

The third section will provide an opportunity to apply what was learned in sessions one and two to specific examples of guidelines at the national, as well as site-specific level. Examples will include specific compounds and parameters, incorporating hardness as a toxicity modifying factor, and updates on specific guidelines.  A facilitated discussion will follow the presentation of case studies to identify research needs and opportunities related to water quality guidelines.

Chairs: Meghan Fuzzen, McMaster University; Mark Servos, University of Waterloo


Wastewater effluents from municipal and industrial sources are known to contain complex mixtures of chemicals, including some that are endocrine disrupting. Endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) have the potential to have severe consequences for populations of aquatic organisms, as demonstrated by the collapse of the fathead minnow population in a lake dosed with the active agent in the birth control pill (Kidd et al 2007). In addition to removal of pathogens and organic waste, treatment of effluent has been shown to remove some EDCs. Advanced treatment (secondary or tertiary processes) removes an even larger proportion of EDCs. Countries such as Switzerland are moving to implement tertiary treatment across the country. Adding additional processes to wastewater treatment plants is extremely costly and may or may not be necessary in all cases? The question posed by the chairs of this session is “When is clean, clean enough?”. This session will end with a panel discussion of this question with experts from government, utilities and academia.