Student Grant Awards

 

Click on year to review Grant Award Recipients

2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

 

Each year the Northwest Scientific Association (NWSA) solicits research grant proposals from graduate and under-graduate students conducting research in northwestern North America.  Supporting young scientists in their research endeavors is an important function of NWSA.

 

2014

 In 2014, we had a record number of 78 student proposals representing 25 universities and colleges covering a wide variety of disciplines. Of these roughly 50% were from PhD candidates, 40% from MS/MA candidates, and 10% from BS/BA candidates.  The Student Grant Committee [Connie Harrington, Gary Kleinknecht, Regina Rochefort, Andrea Woodward, and Bax R. Barton (Chair)], augmented with present and past NWSA Board of Directors [Robyn Darbyshire, Janelle Downs, Katherine Glew, Mark Harmon, Trudy Kavanagh, George Last, Elizabeth Nesbitt, Patrick Pringle, Gregg Riegel] ranked the proposals.  We awarded 11 grants:

 

Ph-D CANDIDATE AWARDS

 

Richard Berl, Washington State University-School of Biological Sciences.  

    Grant Award: $1,490.00

    A comparative study of social behavior in Gray wolves (Canis lupus).

 

Jonathan Calede, University of Washington-Department of Biology.

    Grant Award: $1,499.00.

    Contrasting faunas across the northwestern United States 30 to 20 million years ago: the role of environmental

      change in the emergence of modern mammalian communities.

 

Benjamin Dittbrenner, University of Washington-School of Environmental and Forestry Sciences. 

    Grant Award: $1,488.08.

    Use of unmanned aerial vehicles to measure how beaver reintroductions mitigate effects of climate change on

      the Skykomish River watershed, Washington.

 

Halley Froehlich, University of Washington-School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. 

    Grant Award: $1,296.00.

    Evaluation of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α gene expression in Pacific herring Clupea pallasii as a biomarker for

      hypoxia exposure in the field.

 

Aija White, University of Northern British Columbia-Natural Resources and Environmental Studies.

    Grant Award: $1,500.00.

    Interactions between parental quality and food abundance: Resource acquisition and allocation in Mountain

       Bluebirds (Sialia currucoides).

 

MS/MA CANDIDATE AWARDS

 

Natalie Hollis, Idaho State University-Department of Geology.

    Grant Award: $1,500.00.

    Tracing the Stansbury Uplift with detrital zircon signatures.

 

Kurt Imhoff, University of Montana-Geosciences Department.

    Grant Award: $1,500.00.

    Sediment routing through headwater confluences in a gravel-bed river system.

 

Johanna Claire Thalman, Idaho State University-Department of Biological Science.

    Grant Award: $1,500.00.

    Reproduction and growth of American bison: the influence of extrinsic and intrinsic factors in a varying

       environment.

 

Taylor Wilcox, University of Montana-Department of Wildlife Biology.

    Grant Award: $1,266.90.

    A novel application of environmental DNA to estimate spawning date of trout in streams.

 

BS/BA CANDIDATE AWARDS

 

Paige Alexandra Byerly, University of Idaho-College of Natural Resources.

    Grant Award: $1,500.00.

    Using noninvasive genetic sampling techniques to estimate population size in greater sage-grouse.

Adam Keener, Boise State University-Department of Biological Sciences.

    Grant Award: $1,500.00.

    Can bats tell footstep sounds apart?: A test of a novel form of prey discrimination in the pallid bat, Antrozous

      pallidus. 

 

2013

 

In 2013, the NWSA Grant Committee received 13 applications from graduate and under-graduate students representing 8 universities and a variety of disciplines. 

Five recipients were chosen:

Carrie Branch

University of Nevada-Reno: Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology

Degree Program: Doctor of Philosophy

Advisor: Dr. Vladimir Pravosudov

Grant Award: $1,412.50

 

Male song and female mate preference as potential mechanisms generating reproductive isolation in mountain chickadees (Poecile gambeli) from different elevations

 

Abstract

Understanding the processes underlying the divergence of populations is arguably the most important question in evolutionary biology. While divergence by geographic isolation has an abundance of support, the divergence of populations occupying the same area has received less attention. Mountain chickadees in the Sierra Nevada inhabit a large gradient of elevations characterized by varying winter conditions. Previous work showed that birds living in higher versus lower elevations differ in behavioral and neural characteristics. These differences suggest that chickadees from different elevations may have diverged and evolved local adaptations to their respective elevations, therefore making it difficult for them to be successful at other elevations. The proposed study aims to assess male song and female mate preference as potential mechanisms supporting reproductive isolation between elevations. If male song varies between populations and females use song as a cue for mate choice, male song may be a driving mechanism for reproductive isolation. To test this hypothesis, first, I will record songs from numerous males at high and low elevations and compare song structure using acoustic analysis software. Then, I will play recordings of high and low elevation male song to resident males to assess potential variation in aggressive response. Finally, I will test high and low elevation females for preference of high versus low elevation males. Chickadees from high and low elevations represent an important model to understand population divergence because they appear to have evolved local adaptations despite being highly mobile with no geographic barrier preventing movement.

 

 

Emily Davis

University of Washington: School of Aquatic and Fishery Science

Degree Program: Master of Science

Advisor: Dr. Daniel Schindler

Grant Award: $1,500

 

Wildfire impacts on stream ecosystems: Disturbance and stream metabolism across gradients of space, time, and disturbance severity

 

Abstract

Wildfire is an important agent of natural disturbance in aquatic ecosystems. Research has demonstrated that wildfire has lasting impacts on primary and secondary stream productivity. However, there is a general lack of basic research on wildfire impacts to stream metabolism, which limits our understanding of effects on higher trophic levels. Further, because most studies of wildfire disturbance occur at small spatial scales, an integrated, watershed-scale perspective of disturbance impacts to energy flow across a stream network is needed to assess potential scale-dependent responses to fire. This project investigates the effect of wildfire disturbance on stream metabolism in north-central Idaho’s Big Creek Watershed, part of the interior Columbia River Basin. Several large fires over the last two decades have created a “disturbance mosaic” across this watershed, providing a natural laboratory to test how fire severity, spatial scale, and time since disturbance affect stream metabolism. I approach these questions using a novel modeling framework (Bayesian Metabolic Model, or BaMM), which uses dissolved oxygen, temperature, and irradiance to model diel oxygen dynamics, from which stream metabolism can be estimated.

 

 

Rachel Glaeser

Washington State University-Vancouver: Environmental Science

Degree Program: Master of Science

Advisor: Dr. Cheryl Schultz

Grant Award: $1,500

 

Consequences of selective-herbicide use for butterfly populations: evaluating the magnitude and persistence of negative chemical effects on a prairie butterfly (Glaucopsyche lygdamus columbia)

 

Abstract

In western Oregon and Washington, over 95% of the historic prairie-oak habitat has been lost or degraded. Many remnant shortgrass swards are threatened by exotic tall grasses and selective herbicides are a cost-effective tool used to improve habitat for plants and animals. However, the benefits of improved habitat must be weighed against any detrimental costs for non-target species. In previous laboratory studies, grass-specific herbicides have been shown to reduce butterfly larval survivorship, development time, and to interfere with adult reproductive behavior. Field experiments mimic more realistic chemical exposure and yet few of these studies presently exist for butterflies. In the field component of this study, I will examine the effect of one spring herbicide application on oviposition and larval survivorship of the Columbia silvery blue (Glaucopsyche lygdamus columbia), a common Lycaenid in the Pacific Northwest. An alteration of these demographically relevant factors could have repercussions for population dynamics. I will also track the persistence of any negative chemical effects through repeated sampling of experimental plots over several months. A complementary laboratory investigation will evaluate oviposition preference between sprayed and unsprayed host plants as well as test mechanisms for how herbicides might deter butterfly oviposition. This study will characterize any negative effects in order to improve spraying regimes and will additionally evaluate the use of the silvery blue as a potential surrogate for at-risk butterfly species including the endangered Fender's blue (Icaricia icarioides fenderi).

 

 

Matthew Goslin

University of Oregon: Department of Geography

Degree Program: Doctor of Philosophy

Advisors: Dr. Patricia McDowell and Dr. Andrew Marcus

Grant Award: $1,442

 

Determining the environmental factors that drive the distribution of a river ecosystem

engineer, Carex nudata

 

Abstract

The proposed research focuses upon the environmental drivers of Carex nudata distribution, a native sedge that occurs in rivers throughout the Pacific Northwest and appears to function as an ecosystem engineer capable of altering channel morphology. Until recently, the relationship between plants and rivers was perceived as unidirectional with plants portrayed as passive features influenced by river flow and floods. Increasingly, plants are recognized as also capable of influencing a river’s evolution. Along the Middle Fork John Day River in eastern Oregon, C. nudata has exploded since the removal of cattle grazing in the 1990s. C. nudata appears to be facilitating changes in channel morphology, enhancing complexity and facilitating restoration goals in this historically degraded river.

The proposed research will complement research I have initiated investigating the influence of C. nudata on channel morphology by exploring how river characteristics influence the distribution of C. nudata. After developing a regional model of C. nudata distribution, I will conduct field surveys throughout the John Day and Santiam River basins. Coupled with seed planting experiments, these surveys will help elucidate the environmental factors that influence both the establishment and persistence of C. nudata. Understanding these factors will be critical for restoration practitioners who are beginning to use C. nudata in river restoration projects. Furthermore, linked with my investigation of C. nudata influences on channel morphology, this understanding will enable the construction of a conceptual model of how C. nudata establishes in rivers and then alters the river environment.

 

Tara Pelletier

Ohio State University: Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology

Degree Program: Doctor of Philosophy

Advisor: Dr. Bryan C. Carstens

Grant Award: $1,500

 

Phylogeographic analysis of Plethodon dunni in the Pacific Northwest: postglacial range expansion and contemporary dispersal

 

Abstract

Terrestrial salamanders of the Pacific Northwest (PNW) vary in their distribution patterns and genetic structure. Plethodon dunni is widely distributed, overlapping largely with its sister species P. vehiculum, a pattern uncommon in all Plethodon salamanders. Range expansions are a critical predictor of current species distributions, particularly in areas experiencing historical habitat modification from glacial cycles, mountain orogeny, and flooding. Additionally, due to narrow physiological tolerances and the perceived low levels of dispersal in terrestrial salamanders, current landscape features can have profound effects on the distribution and genetic structuring of current populations. This study will investigate glacial refugia, post-glacial population expansion, and contemporary dispersal in P. dunni using two types of genetic markers – DNA sequence data and microsatellite genotyping. Using markers with differing rates of mutation can identify the roles of both historic and contemporary levels of dispersal. Comparisons of the genetic structure in this species will be compared to that of its sister species, P. vehiculum, two species that are biologically similar and exposed to the same geological processes. This comparison will open up the opportunity to ask questions about similarities and differences between closely related species in the number and location of glacial refugia and post-glacial expansion routes in the PNW, physiological differences between species, and their competitive abilities that might influence the dispersal of terrestrial salamanders. Finally, results from this study could contribute to the development of management plans that maintain recent and historical patterns of gene flow in western Plethodon salamanders.

 

 

NWSA 2012 Student Grant Award Recipients


Each year Northwest Scientific Association solicits research grant proposals from graduate and undergraduate students throughout northwestern North America. Supporting young scientists in their research endeavors is an important function of NWSA. This year we received 12 applications from graduate students, representing 7 universities and a variety of disciplines. The Student Grant Committee [Eva Dettweiler-Robinson, Connie Harrington, Robin Lesher (Chair), Andrea Woodward] ranked the proposals based on the research question, study design, quality of the science and potential contribution, and quality of the presentation. NWSA is pleased to announce the following 2012 Student Grant Award recipients.
  • Bobbi Adams, Washington State University
  • James Parejko, Washington State University
  • Sarah Praskievicz, University of Oregon
  • Laura Twardochleb, University of Washington



Bobbi Adams
Washington State University, School of Biological Sciences
Degree Program:  Master of Science
Advisors:  Dr. Gary Thorgaard and Dr. Brian Kemp
Grant Award: $1500

Ancient DNA analysis of Upper-Columbia Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) prior to the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam

Abstract
Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) were historically abundant in the Columbia River Basin. However, following the arrival of Europeans, salmon experienced broad declines. Of all the factors affecting salmon, hydropower development (specifically the Grand Coulee Dam) had the greatest impact on their distribution; completely abolishing salmon passage above the point of construction. The Grand Coulee Fish Maintenance Project (GCFMP), implemented in 1939, aimed to redirect spawning efforts of fish that would naturally pass Grand Coulee Dam into lower tributaries. Adult fish were captured and subsequently released in tributaries below the dam or propagated for broodstock. As a result, all the Chinook in the mid-Columbia River became a mix of the progeny of relocated stocks. Chinook populations in the Columbia have been studied intensively in recent decades; however, the genetic makeup of Chinook salmon prior to hydroelectric development is completely unknown. DNA from the pre-European development period will be extracted from vertebrate collected at the historic Kettle Falls fishery, which is above the site of the Grand Coulee dam. This historic genetic information will be compared to DNA from contemporary stocks. Contemporary samples will focus on the tributaries where Chinook salmon were transplanted during the GCFMP. This project will provide a novel opportunity to examine the effects of hydroelectric development on genetic diversity. The data generated by this project will provide the first glimpse into the genetic structure of Chinook before the Columbia was harnessed. Historic characterization may also have important implications for future reintroduction efforts above the Grand Coulee Dam. An analysis of the variation present in historical populations will provide important information for feasibility evaluations and population selections reintroduction efforts.

James Parejko
Washington State University, School of Molecular Biosciences
Degree Program:  Doctor of Philosophy
Advisor:  Dr. Linda Thomashow
Grant Award: $1439

Investigating the role of phenazine-producing Pseudomonas spp. in the reduction of Rhizoctonia bare patch in dryland ‘no-till’ spring wheat-spring barley rotations

Abstract
In the Inland Pacific Northwest (IPNW), the low precipitation zone (<350 mm annual precipitation) extends from central Washington into Oregon, covering approximately 1.56 million cropland hectares. Traditionally, dryland cereal crops have been grown throughout the zone, with a two-year soil moisture management regimen which is dependent upon multiple passes with soil tilling equipment. Sustainable ‘no-till’ farming has been developed to retain soil moisture, reduce agricultural fossil fuel consumption and reduce wind soil erosion, but the soilborne fungal root pathogen Rhizoctonia solani causes greater losses in no-till than in conventional cropping systems. It has previously been shown that a rotation of spring wheat with spring barley in no-till plots holds real promise to dryland farmers suffering from significant yield losses due to Rhizoctonia root rot. This rotation effect has been hypothesized to be the result of antibiotic-producing cereal root-colonizing bacteria. Phenazines are bacterially-derived, naturally produced antibiotics known to inhibit R. solani, and four species of indigenous phenazine-producing bacteria related to members of the ‘Pseudomonas fluorescens species complex’ have been found in high populations in IPNW dryland cereal fields. This study will investigate the populations of the four species in wheat-barley rotation greenhouse assays using the culture-dependent terminal dilution endpoint assay and culture-independent quantitative PCR specific for measuring levels of phenazine biosynthesis genes (phz). Root-zone DNA samples from cereal rotations at an IPNW dryland experimental field plot will also be screened using quantitative PCR to determine if the bacterial populations are found in similar levels under field conditions. Determining if the wheat-barley rotation selects specific populations of these phenazine-producing bacteria could help elucidate the importance of rotating dryland cereal crops in order to control Rhizoctonia root rot.


Sarah Praskievicz
University of Oregon, Department of Geography
Degree Program:  Doctor of Philosophy
Advisor:  Dr. Patrick Bartlein
Grant Award:  $1428

A Hierarchical Modeling Approach to Simulating to Geomorphic Response of River Systems to Climate Change

Abstract
Anthropogenic climate change is likely to significantly affect water resources, particularly in snow-dominated river basins, where increased temperatures and altered precipitation patterns result in lower snowpack and increased hydrologic variability.  While these hydrologic impacts have been studied using basin-scale models, few studies have examined how changes in the magnitude and timing of discharge resulting from climate change may influence the morphology of river systems.  
In this research, I will use a hierarchical, multiple-scale modeling approach to investigate potential impacts of climate change on the fluvial geomorphology of three basins in the interior Pacific Northwest: the Tucannon River in southeastern Washington and the South Fork Coeur d’Alene and Red rivers in Idaho.  I will develop scenarios of climate change for the years 2040-2069, based on the North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program (NARCCAP).   I will use these climate change scenarios as input to the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) basin-scale hydrologic model, which simulates runoff as a function of climatic, topographic, soil, and land cover input data.  The resulting hydrologic scenarios will be used to run the Cellular Automaton Evolutionary Slope and River (CAESAR) reach-scale geomorphic model, which I will initialize based on topographic and sediment grain-size data obtained in the field.  The results from the CAESAR model will include changes in planform, including average sinuosity and meander amplitude; in channel morphology, such as width and depth; and in total and suspended sediment transport.  This hierarchical modeling approach allows for investigation of the interactions among physical processes operating at a range of spatial scales, from global climate to reach-scale morphology.  

 

Laura Twardochleb

University of Washington, School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences

Degree Program:  Master of Science

Advisor:  Dr. Julian Olden

Grant Award: $1500


Can Non-Native Species Mitigate Impacts of Urbanization on Aquatic Food Webs?

Abstract
Non-native species are widely regarded as threats to ecosystem structure and function, yet new research suggests that non-native species may be important resource subsidies for consumers in degraded ecosystems. Resource subsidies refer to fluxes of organic matter across habitats that support higher food web production than within-habitat resources alone. In urbanized lakes of Washington State, littoral to pelagic and littoral to terrestrial subsidies are lost when riparian (shoreline) and aquatic vegetation are removed and native prey decline. Chinese mystery snail (Bellamya chinensis; hereafter CMS), first introduced into Washington by aquarium hobbyists over 40 years ago, is now distributed in hundreds of lakes and can achieve very high densities. Because CMS are large and abundant, they may be an important prey resource in Washington lake ecosystems that have lost native invertebrate prey due to urbanization; alternatively, their thick shell and operculum may make them inaccessible to common predators such as crayfish, fish, ducks, and river otters, and they would thus represent an energetic dead-end. I will examine whether CMS are utilized by predators in lake ecosystems to subsidize adjacent habitats, and I will assess the context dependence of this subsidy along gradients of urbanization and CMS density.

 

2011 Student Grant Award Recipients

 

Northwest Scientific Association 2011 Student Grant Awards

 

Each year Northwest Scientific Association solicits research grant proposals from students throughout northwestern North America.  Supporting young scientists in their research endeavors is an important function of NWSA.  This year we received 39 applications from undergraduate and graduate students, representing 15 universities and a variety of disciplines.  The Student Grant Committee [(Eva Dettweiler-Robinson, Lana D’Souza, Connie Harrington, Robin Lesher (chair)] ranked the proposals based on the research question, study design, information provided and the quality of presentation.  NWSA is pleased to announce the following 2011 Student Grant Award recipients. 

 

 

 

Cecilia Brothers

Walla Walla University

Degree Program:  Master of Science, Department of Biology

Advisor: Dr. James Nestler

Grant Award:  $1,500

 

Visceral Regeneration by the Uptake of Dissolved Organic Material in the Sea Cucumber Parastichopus californicus

 

Abstract

All living organisms have the ability to regenerate body tissues in response to sub-lethal predation or stressful abiotic conditions. However, the sea cucumber Parastichopus californicus is a unique model for studying the regenerative process. Every year the visceral organs of the sea cucumber atrophy into the body wall between October and November, and are regenerated between January and March. In addition, there is no evidence that this cycle of atrophy and regeneration occurs in response to predation or stressful conditions. Why do they atrophy and regenerate their visceral organs on an annual cycle? What are the costs and benefits associated with the regenerative process, and what biochemical pathways are involved? Before these questions can be answered, the source of biosynthetic materials used to regenerate the visceral organs must be determined. Previous research has indicated that the biosynthetic materials used for regeneration do not come from active feeding by the sea cucumber, and they do not come from the body wall. However, an external source of biosynthetic materials for regeneration could be provided by the uptake of dissolved organic material (DOM) from the aqueous environment. Many studies on larval organisms have indicated that the uptake of DOM can provide a significant amount of biosynthetic materials to the organism. Preliminary analysis with 13C and 15N labeled Isogro® has indicated that the tissues of P. californicus take up dissolved organic materials from their environment. The purpose of this experiment is to determine if P. californicus extracts DOM from its environment and if this material could be the source of biosynthetic materials for the annual regeneration of its visceral organs.

 

 

Dustin Cousins

Eastern Washington University

Degree Program:  Master of Science, Department of Biology

Advisor: Dr. Margaret O’Connell

Grant Award:  $1,500

 

Magnetoreception and its use by Thomomys talpoides, the Northern Pocket Gopher

 

Abstract

The fossorial niche, underground living, has been invaded multiple times by four mammalian groups; Rodentia, Afrosoricida, Notoryctemorphia, and Soricomorpha. Many fossorial mammals have converged on similar morphologies, reflecting the costs of this niche. For pocket gophers (Rodentia; Geomyidae), the cost of digging underground has been estimated to require 360 to 3400 times the amount of energy as above-ground movement. This energy demand requires gophers to be efficient in foraging, and evidence suggests that pocket gophers follow an area-restricted foraging model. However, this model has merely been observed, and the mechanisms they use in underground navigation have not been identified. The use of magnetoreception has been demonstrated in two

Old Worldfamilies of fossorial rodents. However, magnetoreception has not been examined in Geomyidae, a recent New Worldphylogenetic group of fossorial rodents. My study will examine the ability of one species of Geomyidae, Thomomies talpoides, to detect the earth's magnetic fields by using a conditioned nest-placement test and a maze performance test. Both of these will be conducted using a double-wrapped square coil system to alter the magnetic field. I will examine T. talpoides’s detection and use of magnetoreception in foraging by addressing the following hypotheses. 1) If T. talpoides uses magnetoreception in nest placement then the mean vector of nest placement will change in response to the alteration of the magnetic field. 2) If T. talpoides uses magnetoreception for orientation in navigation, then maze-efficiency values will diminish when the magnetic field is altered.

 

 

Matthew Hegland

Pacific Lutheran University

Degree Program:  Bachelor of Science, Department of Geosciences

Advisor: Dr. Claire Todd

Grant Award: $1,469.90

 

Meltwater Chemistry of Mount Rainier Glaciers

 

Abstract

This study will investigate the subglacial environment through the chemical and physical analysis of meltwater from Mount Rainierglaciers. Meltwater samples from the Carbon, Emmons, and Nisqually glaciers will be taken and analyzed to compare geothermal and erosional processes spatially, as well as on diurnal and seasonal timescales. Samples from a glacier terminus in the southwestern quadrant of Mount Rainierwill also be included. Sulfate concentrations and pH will be used as geothermal indicators, and total suspended sediment analyses will be used to determine erosional differences. Water alkalinity will be used to calculate bicarbonate concentrations and to determine atmospheric inputs to glacial melt. Preliminary results indicate that the southwestern side of the mountain is the most geothermally active sector on Rainierbased on anomalous sulfate concentrations in Tahoma glacier meltwater. Sediment concentrations show a strong relationship with discharge as well as subglacial surface area.

 

Erin M. Herring

University of Oregon

Degree Program:  Doctor of Philosophy, Department of Geography

Major Adviser: Dr. Daniel Gavin

Grant Award: $1500

 Climate and vegetation in a putative Pleistocene refugium in northern Idaho inferred from a >100,000 year paleorecord

 

Abstract

The mesic forests distributed within the Rocky Mountains of northern Idaho are unique for the reason that many species contained within the forest are separated from their main distribution along the Pacific Northwestcoast. Within these mesic forests, there are 116 vascular plant species that occur in both coastal and interior distributions. The uplift of the Cascade Mountain Range during the Miocene led to the development of a pronounced rain shadow to the east. It remains unclear whether most species within the inland disjunction survived the glacial periods of the Pleistocene, or whether they were more recently dispersed over the rain shadow. Recent phylogeography and modern distribution studies suggest that a refugium may have existed in the Lochsa watershed of northern Idaho. To date there have been no climate and vegetation records that extend back to the last interglacial recovered within the possible refugium. The proposed research will fill this gap by examining a fossil pollen record recovered from Star Meadows located within the proposed refugium that will provide evidence for the changing climates and forest composition since the last interglacial.

Conclusions from this record will add further information about the proposed refugium and may become a cornerstone in our understanding of Pleistocene climates in western North America, where there are very few continuous records of climate and vegetation that date back to the last interglacial.

 

 

 

Ellen P. Preece

Washington State University

Degree Program:  Doctor of Philosophy, Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences

Advisor: Dr. Barry C. Moore

Grant Award: $1,500

 

Cyanobacteria and Fish: A Toxic Health Threat to Tribal Communities?

 Abstract

Toxic cyanobacteria (blue green algae) blooms have become a serious environmental problem worldwide. There is indication that the prevalence and toxicity of cyanobacteria are increasing throughout the United States . Direct exposure or consumption of water with cyanotoxins is a known health hazard, but there is a fundamental gap in understanding trophic transfers of these toxins and their potential accumulation in aquatic animals such as fish. For individuals in tribal and other communities dependent on local fish sources as a substantial part of their diet, toxin accumulation in fish may be of particular concern. My study addresses the most common cyanotoxin, the hepatotoxin microcystin, known to cause fatalities in humans, fish and domestic livestock. My study will collect brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) from four lakes on the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in northeastern Washington, where recent increase in cyanobacteria blooms have been noted. There is some indication, based on the literature, that cooking may amplify microcystin availability. Therefore, trout tissue and liver samples will be analyzed both raw and cooked. Results from this study will be used to inform the Colville tribe if they are at an increased health risk from consuming fish from reservation lakes. Ultimately, I want this work to be used to protect public health, improve lake management and increase efforts to reduce environmental pollution that leads to noxious cyanobacteria and other water quality problems.

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