Contaminant Biology: Stable Isotope Applications

Research Project: 

RB00E63.7.0

Project Manager: 

Craig Stricker
Two scientist work on a study of mercury contamination in the water
Two scientist work on a study of mercury contamination in the water. USGS Photo.

Environmental contaminants of natural and anthropogenic origin represent a major stressor to ecosystems, including human and wildlife populations. A better mechanistic understanding of contaminant cycling under natural environmental conditions is necessary to mitigate and protect our natural resources. Stable isotope techniques are extremely useful in resolving trophic pathways by which contaminants become bioavailable, bioaccumulate, and biomagnify.  The objectives of this project are to: 

  • Utilize stable isotopes to better resolve the geochemical cycling of contaminants that influences bioavailability.
  • Use stable isotope data to constrain contaminant sources.
  • Employ stable isotope techniques to infer trophic transfer pathways of select contaminants.

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