We propose to develop and characterize tools that can evaluate the health of wildlife at the individual, population and community levels. These tools are composed of biomarkers of exposure and effect (both biochemical and analytical chemistry) and mechanistic demographics evaluations.
Wildlife inhabiting chemically-contaminated environments are front line indicators of chemical exposure and chemical effects. As such, they can provide important information useful in waste site remediation decision- making and evaluation. We propose to develop and characterize tools that can evaluate the health of wildlife at the individual, population and community levels. These tools are composed of biomarkers of exposure and effect (both biochemical and analytical chemistry) and mechanistic demographics evaluations. The biomarkers under study, porphyrin profiles tied to chelation challenge, metallothionein levels, oxidative stress responses and analyses of chorioallantoic membrane contaminant levels, are all useful in the analysis of exposure and effects of metals and metal mixtures, the focus of our field-based assessment component. Mechanistic demography studies investigate the underlying mechanisms associated with population and community changes accompanying contamination of study habitats. As higher level impacts generally have their basis in individual level effects, the continuum of assessments from individual to community will be maintained. Both biomarkers and mechanistic demographics will be tested in field studies oriented toward assessing waste-site hazard to wildlife species, testing models of risk, making decisions, concerning remediation prioritization and methods selection, and assessing the efficacy of remedial activities.
Studies will occur on the Anaconda Smelter site in Montana, the Carson River Site in Nevada, and the newly constructed and not yet contaminated, Waste Control Specialists site in Texas. Using the experienced gained in the previous and proposed research, we will work with the US EPA and US Fish and Wildlife service to develop a framework for inclusion of health and demographics-based wildlife assessments into waste site evaluations and remediation decision-making. A similar approach will be taken in work with the US Air Force in the establishment of a policy for working with threatened and endangered species that inhabit waste sites under Department of Defense responsibility. The result of these studies will be the development, testing and integration of wildlife health effects into the waste site assessment and remediation action process.