Juvenile Chinook

Characterizing contaminant exposure and effects in Fraser River Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and their habitat

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Contaminants have been identified as one of the greatest threats to natural ecosystems, and specifically to juvenile salmon health and survival. The Fraser River in British Columbia is the world’s most productive salmon river, with its watershed providing spawning and rearing habitat and a lengthy migratory waterway for 54 distinct populations of salmon. In the Salish Sea, the abundance of the largest salmon species, Chinook decreased by 60% between 1984 and 2010 with continued low spawner escapements. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in

Canada deems 90% (12/13) of the Chinook salmon populations in the Fraser River to be at risk or endangered. Chinook salmon represent an important species not only to First Nations, recreational anglers and commercial fishers, but also to wildlife, including the 

endangered Southern Resident killer whales (SRKW). For SRKW, Chinook comprise 85% of their diet. This project will be the most comprehensive investigation on contaminant exposure and effects in a salmon species in a Canadian river system to date. The impact of individual contaminants on fish is largely unknown for most chemicals, including ~30,000 widely used substances. This project will involve a comprehensive evaluation of ~400 priority contaminants in water, sediment, wastewater treatment plant effluent, and 

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Chinook salmon, and will relate these to novel toxicological endpoints. regulators and environmental managers to design more effective tools to monitor and mitigate contaminant impacts on salmon populations. In collaboration with Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Environment & Climate Change, MetroVancouver, and Tsawwassen First Nation this project will enable the development and implementation of effective controls that contribute to reducing the inputs of contaminants of concern into the habitat of Fraser Chinook populations and endangered SRKW.

Relevant Lab Members – Bonnie Lo (PhD), Carys Gallilee (Co-op), Hasnah Nathani (Co-op)