Toxicological Effects of Methylmercury on Fishes In Inland Lakes of Isle Royale National Park

EPA Grant Number: FP916434
Title: Toxicological Effects of Methylmercury on Fishes In Inland Lakes of Isle Royale National Park
Investigators: Drevnick, Paul E.
Institution: Miami University - Oxford
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: January 1, 2004 through December 31, 2007
Project Amount: $111,344
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Toxicology , Academic Fellowships , Health Effects


The overall objective of this research project is to test the hypothesis that reproduction of wild fish may be impaired in mercury-sensitive ecosystems.


This research project will be conducted with a combination of laboratory experiments at Miami University and field studies at Isle Royale National Park (a known mercury-sensitive ecosystem). The overall objective will be accomplished by:

(1) Determining the molecular and physiological mechanisms responsible for impaired reproduction in methylmercury-contaminated fish. Novel molecular and physiological techniques will be used to determine the action of methylmercury on the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis of laboratory-exposed fish.

(2) Developing biomarkers specific to the effects of methylmercury. Biomarkers are molecular and physiological changes that serve as indicators of exposure and/or effects of toxicants to organisms. Understanding the mechanisms responsible for reproductive impairment in fish due to methylmercury will allow for the development of biomarkers that can be used to measure the effects of methylmercury in wild fish.

(3) Assessing the reproductive health of northern pike (Esox lucius) and yellow perch (Perca flavescens) in Isle Royale National Park. Biomarker analyses for methylmercury exposure and effects will be conducted in several lakes of the Park.

The outcome of this research project will be to determine the causes for and extent to which methylmercury impairs reproduction in fishes in mercury-sensitive ecosystems. Mercury pollution is a major environmental problem, however, very little is known about how it affects ecological processes. Information gained from this research will benefit fishery managers at Isle Royale National Park and at other locations in assessing the relative effects of mercury contamination on year-class strengths of wild populations of fish.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, methylmercury, fish, northern pike, yellow perch, reproduction, toxicology, ecology, Isle Royale National Park, biomarkers, mercury-sensitive ecosystems, reproduction impairment,, Scientific Discipline, Water, Toxicology, Environmental Chemistry, Biochemistry, Mercury, biomarkers, fish reproductive impairment, bioavailability, developmental toxicity, methylmercury, mercury detection, lake ecosystems

Relevant Websites:

2004 STAR Graduate Fellowship Conference Poster (PDF, 1p., 112KB, about PDF)

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2004
  • 2005
  • 2006
  • Final