Collin Eagles-Smith

Collin Eagles-Smith
United States Geological Survey | USGS · Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center

About

124
Publications
29,504
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3,566
Citations
Additional affiliations
April 2010 - present
United States Geological Survey
Position
  • Research Ecologist

Publications

Publications (124)
Article
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Western NorthAmerica is a region defined by extreme gradients in geomorphology and climate,which support a diverse array of ecological communities and natural resources. The region also has extreme gradients in mercury (Hg) contamination due to a broad distribution of inorganic Hg sources. These diverse Hg sources and a varied landscape create a un...
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Environmental mercury (Hg) contamination is an urgent global health threat. The complexity of Hg in the environment can hinder accurate determination of ecological and human health risks, particularly within the context of the rapid global changes that are altering many ecological processes, socioeconomic patterns, and other factors like infectious...
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We conducted a national-scale assessment of mercury (Hg) bioaccumulation in aquatic ecosystems, using dragonfly larvae as biosentinels, by developing a citizen-science network to facilitate biological sampling. Implementing a carefully designed sampling methodology for citizen scientists, we developed an effective framework for a landscape-level in...
Article
Mercury (Hg) is a pervasive environmental pollutant and contaminant of concern for both people and wildlife that has been a focus of environmental remediation efforts for decades. A growing body of literature has motivated calls for revising Hg consumption advisories to co-consider selenium (Se) levels in seafood and implies that remediating aquati...
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Supplementary food resources (e.g., subsidies) associated with agriculture can benefit wildlife species, increasing predictability and availability of food. Avian scavengers including raptors often utilize subsidies associated with both recreational hunting and pest shooting on agricultural lands. However, these subsidies can contain lead (Pb) frag...
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Lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush), collected from 13 remote lakes located in southwestern Alaska, were analyzed for carbon, nitrogen, and mercury (Hg) stable isotope values to assess the importance of migrating oceanic salmon, volcanic activity, and atmospheric deposition to fish Hg burden. Methylmercury (MeHg) bioaccumulation in phytoplankton (5.0...
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The biogeochemistry of tidal marsh sediments facilitates the transformation of mercury (Hg) into the biologically available form methylmercury (MeHg), resulting in elevated Hg exposures to tidal marsh wildlife. Saltmarsh and Acadian Nelson’s sparrows (Ammospiza caudacutua and A. nelsoni subvirgatus, respectively) exclusively inhabit tidal marshes,...
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Lead (Pb) exposure is a widespread wildlife conservation threat. Although commonly associated with Pb-based ammunition from big-game hunting, small mammals (e.g., ground squirrels) shot for recreational or pest-management purposes represent a potentially important Pb vector in agricultural regions. We measured the responses of avian scavengers to p...
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A Correction to this paper has been published: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10646-021-02403-8
Article
Amphibian larvae are commonly used as indicators of aquatic ecosystem health because they are susceptible to contaminants. However, there is limited information on how species characteristics and trophic position influence contaminant loads in larval amphibians. Importantly, there remains a need to understand whether grazers (frogs and toads [anura...
Article
Forest soils are among the world’s largest repositories for long-term accumulation of atmospherically deposited mercury (Hg), and understanding the potential for remobilization through gaseous emissions, aqueous dissolution and runoff, or erosive particulate transport to down-gradient aquatic ecosystems is critically important for projecting ecosys...
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Cross-ecosystem subsidies move substantial amounts of nutrients between ecosystems. Emergent aquatic insects are a particularly important prey source for riparian songbirds but may also move aquatic contaminants, such as mercury (Hg), to riparian food webs. While many studies focus on species that eat primarily emergent aquatic insects, we instead...
Article
Mercury (Hg), a potent neurotoxic element, can biomagnify through food webs once converted into methylmercury (MeHg). Some studies have found that selenium (Se) exposure may reduce MeHg bioaccumulation and toxicity, though this pattern is not universal. Se itself can also be toxic at elevated levels. We experimentally manipulated the relative conce...
Article
Industrial chemical contamination within coastal regions of the Great Lakes can pose serious risks to wetland habitat and offshore fisheries, often resulting in fish consumption advisories that directly affect human and wildlife health. Mercury (Hg) is a contaminant of concern in many of these highly urbanized and industrialized coastal regions, on...
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Although anthropogenic mercury (Hg) releases to the environment have been substantially lowered in the United States and Canada since 1990, concerns remain for contamination in fish from remote lakes and rivers where atmospheric deposition is the predominant source of mercury. How have aquatic ecosystems responded? We report on one of the longest k...
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Toxicity of methylmercury (MeHg) to wildlife and humans results from its binding to cysteine residues of proteins, forming MeHg-cysteinate (MeHgCys) complexes that hinder biological functions. MeHgCys complexes can be detoxified in vivo, yet how this occurs is unknown. We report that MeHgCys complexes are transformed into selenocysteinate [Hg(Sec)4...
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Mountain lakes, while seemingly pristine, have been subjected to historical fish stocking practices and exposure to atmospherically deposited contaminants like mercury. Mercury bioaccumulation in these ecosystems varies widely due to strong environmental gradients, and there are complex, hierarchical factors that affect mercury transport and loadin...
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Mercury (Hg) loading and methylation in aquatic systems causes a variety of deleterious effects for fish and wildlife populations. Relatively little research has focused on Hg movement into riparian food webs and how this is modulated by habitat characteristics. This study characterized differences in Hg exposure in aquatic invertebrates and ripari...
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Although feathers are commonly used to monitor mercury (Hg) in avian populations, their reliability as a sampling matrix has not been thoroughly assessed for many avian species, including most songbirds (Order Passeriformes). To better understand relationships between total Hg (THg) concentrations in feathers and other tissues for birds in the thru...
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Chemical contaminants are a threat to the Chesapeake Bay watershed, with mercury (Hg) among the most prevalent causes of impairment. Despite this, large-scale patterns of Hg concentrations, and the potential risks to fish, wildlife, and humans across the watershed, are poorly understood. We compiled fish Hg data from state monitoring programs and r...
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Mercury (Hg) and selenium (Se) are contaminants of concern for fish in the Upper Colorado River Basin (UCRB). We explored Hg and Se in fish tissues (2,324 individuals) collected over 50 years (1962-2011) from the UCRB. Samples include native and non-native fish collected from lotic waterbodies spanning 7 major tributaries to the Colorado River. The...
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Maternal transfer is the predominant route of methylmercury (MeHg) exposure to offspring. We reviewed and synthesized published and unpublished data on maternal transfer of MeHg in birds. Using paired samples of females’ blood (n=564) and their eggs (n=1814) from 26 bird species in 6 taxonomic orders, we conducted a meta-analysis to evaluate whethe...
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Railway transport of coal poses an environmental risk, because coal dust contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), mercury, and other trace metals. In the Pacific Northwest of the United States, proposed infrastructure projects could result in an increase in coal transport by train through the Columbia River corridor. Baseline information i...
Article
Exposure to methylmercury (MeHg) can result in detrimental health effects in wildlife. With advances in ecological indicators and analytical techniques for measurement of MeHg in a variety of tissues, numerous processes have been identified that can influence MeHg concentrations in wildlife. This review presents a synthesis of theoretical principal...
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Exposure of nontarget wildlife to anticoagulant rodenticides (AR) is a global conservation concern typically centered around urban or agricultural areas. Recently, however, the illegal use of ARs in remote forests of California, USA, has exposed sensitive predators, including the federally threatened northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina...
Article
Wood frogs, like other amphibian species worldwide, are experiencing population declines due to multiple stressors. In the northeastern United States, wood frog declines are thought to result from a reduction in successful metamorphosis in part due to climate change, disease (specifically ranavirus), and contaminant exposure. The presence of multip...
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Since the last Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) effort to review biological effects of the exposure to organohalogen compounds (OHCs) in Arctic biota, there has been a considerable number of new Arctic effect studies. Here, we provide an update on the state of the knowledge of OHC, and also include mercury, exposure and/or associat...
Article
Wetland environments provide numerous ecosystem services but also facilitate methylmercury production and bioaccumulation. We developed a wetland management technique to reduce methylmercury concentrations in wetland fish and water. We physically modified seasonal wetlands by constructing open and deep‐water treatment cells at the downstream‐end of...
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Timber harvest has many effects on aquatic ecosystems, including changes in hydrological, biogeochemical, and ecological processes that can influence mercury (Hg) cycling. Although timber harvest's influence on aqueous Hg transformation and transport are well studied, the effects on Hg bioaccumulation are not. We evaluated Hg bioaccumulation, bioma...
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Methylmercury (MeHg) bioaccumulation in freshwater aquatic systems is impacted by anthropogenic stressors, including climate change and nutrient enrichment. The goal of this study was to determine how warmer water temperatures and excess nutrients would alter zooplankton communities and phytoplankton concentrations, and whether those changes would...
Article
Mercury is a global pollutant that has been emitted and released into the environment from numerous human activities including coal combustion, artisanal gold mining, mining of other metals, and chemical production, resulting in the elevated exposure of humans and wildlife throughout the world. Mercury contamination has been recognized by the inter...
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Lead (Pb) exposure in wildlife is a widespread management and conservation concern. Quantitative determination of Pb concentrations in wildlife tissues is the foundation for estimating exposure and risk. Development of low‐cost, portable instruments has improved access and cost‐effectiveness of determining Pb concentrations in blood samples, while...
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Predators sample the available prey community when foraging; thus, changes in the environment may be reflected by changes in predator diet and foraging preferences. We examined Forster’s tern (Sterna forsteri) prey species over an 11-year period by sampling approximately 10,000 prey fish returned to 17 breeding colonies in south San Francisco Bay,...
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Land-use activities can alter hydrological and biogeochemical processes that can affect the fate, transformation, and transport of mercury (Hg). Previous studies in boreal forests have shown that forestry operations can have profound, but variable effects on Hg export and methylmercury (MeHg) formation. The Pacific Northwest is an important timber...
Article
We studied seasonal and physiological influences on mercury concentrations in western grebes (Aechmophorus occidentalis) and Clark's grebes (A. occidentalis) across 29 lakes and reservoirs in California, USA. Additionally, at three of these lakes, we conducted a time series study, in which we repeatedly sampled grebe blood mercury concentrations du...
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Mercury (Hg) is a non-essential, toxic metal that is distributed worldwide. Mercury biomagnifies in food webs and can threaten the health of top predators such as seabirds. The Kittlitz's murrelet (Brachyramphus brevirostris) is a seabird endemic to Alaska and the Russian Far East and is a species of conservation concern in the region. We determine...
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Contaminant exposure is among the many threats to Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) populations throughout North America, particularly lead poisoning and anticoagulant rodenticides (AR). These threats may act in concert with others (e.g., lead poisoning and trauma associated with striking objects) to exacerbate risk. Golden Eagles are skilled hunter...
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Nonnative fishes have been increasingly implicated in the decline of native fishes in the Pacific Northwest. Smallmouth Bass Micropterus dolomieu were introduced into the Umpqua River in southwest Oregon in the early 1960s. The spread of Smallmouth Bass throughout the basin coincided with a decline in counts of upstream-migrating Pacific Lampreys E...
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Fish provide a valuable source of beneficial nutrients and are an excellent source of low fat protein. However, fish are also the primary source of methylmercury exposure in humans. Selenium often co-occurs with mercury and there is some evidence that selenium can protect against mercury toxicity yet States issue fish consumption advisories based s...
Article
An individual's investment in constitutive immune defenses depends on both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. We examined how Leucocytozoon parasite presence, body condition (scaled mass), heterophil-to-lymphocyte (H:L) ratio, sex, and age affected immune defenses in golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) nestlings from three regions: California, Oregon, a...
Article
Environmental contaminants are a concern for animal health, but contaminant exposure can also be used as a tracer of foraging ecology. In particular, mercury (Hg) concentrations are highly variable among aquatic and terrestrial food webs as a result of habitat- and site-specific biogeochemical processes that produce the bioaccumulative form, methyl...
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Eggshells are a potential tool for non-lethally sampling contaminant concentrations in bird eggs, yet few studies have examined their utility to represent mercury exposure. We assessed mercury concentrations in eggshell components for 23 bird species and determined whether they correlated with total mercury (THg) in egg contents. We designed a mult...
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Estuaries are transitional habitats characterized by complex biogeochemical and ecological gradients that result in substantial variation in fish total mercury concentrations (THg). We leveraged these gradients and used carbon (δ¹³C), nitrogen (δ¹⁵N), and sulfur (δ³⁴S) stable isotopes to examine the ecological and biogeochemical processes underlyin...
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Recreational ground squirrel shooting is a popular activity throughout the western United States and serves as a tool for managing ground squirrel populations in agricultural regions. Belding's ground squirrels (Spermophilus beldingi) are routinely shot in California, Nevada, and Oregon across habitats that overlap with breeding avian scavengers. G...
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Variation in avian bilateral symmetry can be an indicator of development instability in response to a variety of stressors, including environmental contaminants. We used composite measures of fluctuating asymmetry to examine the influence of mercury concentrations in two tissues on fluctuating asymmetry within four waterbird species. Fluctuating as...
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In egg contaminant studies, it is necessary to calculate egg contaminant concentrations on a fresh wet weight basis and this requires accurate estimates of egg density and egg volume. We show that the inclusion or exclusion of the eggshell can influence egg contaminant concentrations, and we provide estimates of egg density (both with and without t...
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For the Western North America Mercury Synthesis, we compiled mercury records from 165 dated sediment cores from 138 natural lakes across western North America. Lake sediments are accepted as faithful recorders of historical mercury accumulation rates, and regional and sub-regional temporal and spatial trends were analyzed with descriptive and infer...
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Exposure to environmental contaminants has been implicated as a factor in global amphibian decline. Mercury (Hg) is a particularly widespread contaminant that biomagnifies in amphibians and can cause a suite of deleterious effects. However, monitoring contaminant exposure in amphibian tissues may conflict with conservation goals if lethal take is r...
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The widespread distribution of mercury (Hg) threatens wildlife health, particularly piscivorous birds. Western North America is a diverse region that provides critical habitat to many piscivorous bird species, and also has a well-documented history of mercury contamination from legacy mining and atmospheric deposition. The diversity of landscapes i...
Article
Annual stream loads of mercury (Hg) and inputs of wet and dry atmospheric Hg deposition to the landscape were investigated in watersheds of the Western United States and the Canadian-Alaskan Arctic. Mercury concentration and discharge data from flow gauging stations were used to compute annual mass loads with regression models. Measured wet and mod...
Article
In birds where males and females are similar in size and plumage, sex determination by alternative means is necessary. Discriminant function analysis based on external morphometrics was used to distinguish males from females in two closely related species: Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) and Clark's Grebe (A. clarkii). Additionally, discr...
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Mercury (Hg) emission and deposition can occur to and from soils, and are an important component of the global atmospheric Hg budget. This paper focuses on synthesizing existing surface-air Hg flux data collected throughout the Western North American region and is part of a series of geographically focused Hg synthesis projects. A database of exist...
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Remote high-elevation lakes represent unique environments for evaluating the bioaccumulation of atmospherically deposited mercury through freshwater food webs, as well as for evaluating the relative importance of mercury loading versus landscape influences on mercury bioaccumulation. The increase in mercury deposition to these systems over the past...