Challenges to Aquatic Animals in a Changing Environment

Current aims of the Madison Lab research program is to gain a better perspective of how populations of fish are changing with respect to their local seasonal distribution patterns and profiles of beneficial nutrients (e.g., polyunsaturated fatty acids, PUFAs), and whether these changes are associated with climate change- and anthropogenic-related shifts in their environments.

Shifts in global climate are affecting temperature; carbon dioxide levels; acidity; eutrophication due to increasing levels of nitrogen and phosphorus; salinity; and biotic pressures such as declining biodiversity, invasive species, and harmful algal blooms.

Anthropogenic factors complex these challenges in the form of aquatic contamination, from such contaminants as mercury (Hg), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs), illicit drugs, organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and a variety of endocrine disruption compounds (i.e., EDCs).

Uncovering the relationships between climate change, contaminants, and fish health and population distribution will provide an understanding of what factors need to be considered when adapting environmental policy for critical regional watersheds. By focusing on the Central Assiniboine River Watershed (CAW), the City of Brandon, and surrounding areas, the Madison lab will provide local, meaningful data for regional communities about the state of the watershed and the biota that live within it.

The MADECOPET Lab researches these questions using an integrative ECOPET approach to better understand the context of animals in their (changing) environments.