Further Examination of the Bio- Magnification of Mercury within Fish Species of the Deh Cho and Their Varying Levels Among Lakes

Regions: Dehcho Region

Tags: contaminants, zooplankton, fish, mercury, aquatic invertebrates

Principal Investigator: Swanson, Heidi (6)
Licence Number: 15970
Organization: University of Waterloo
Licenced Year(s): 2017 2016 2016 2015 2014 2013
Issued: Oct 13, 2016
Project Team: Mike Low (Field Assistance, Deh Cho First Nations), Angus Sanguez (Field Assistance, Jean Marie River First Nations), Dean Holman (Coordinating, Liidlii Kue FIrst Nations)

Objective(s): To determine why fish mercury levels vary among lakes in the Dehcho region.

Project Description: The objectives of this research project are: 1) to determine why fish mercury levels vary among lakes in the Dehcho region; 2) to identify best predictors of fish mercury levels; and, 3) to determine which fish have the lowest levels of mercury and highest levels of micro-nutrients and fatty acids.

The methods for this project include two parts, first is the collection of food web data from each lake, which includes collecting phytoplankton, periphyton, zooplankton, benthic inverts and fish samples; second the samples will be analyzed in a laboratory for stable isotopes and total mercury. Each spring the previous year’s results will be reported back during community meetings. Collection of the samples will involve the assistance of local community members with knowledge of the lake and fishery to go out with the researcher and assist in the collection. The collection of samples from the lakes will occur during the fall of each year. Dependence on the local fishers will be crucial to catching the required amount of fish per each lake.

This is a community based initiative and first nation members will be involved at every step. All fish will go back to the community and any large feasts or events will be catered by the community. This project will providing useful information for fish management and subsistence.

Communication of the results back to the communities is the most important part of this research. After each field season is completed and samples have been analyzed, the results will be reported to the related community (s) in plane language at a spring community meeting. In addition to individual spring meetings with the first nations, plans are being made for a combination of workshops and committee meetings to present results and ongoing activity.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from October 14, 2016 to December 31, 2016.