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Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory

Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Dean

Main Content Area

Dr. Da Chen

Research Interests

My research employs a multi-disciplinary, integrated framework to evaluate wildlife exposure to emerging organic contaminants (EOCs). This framework combines field investigation with laboratory models, and involves varying scientific disciplines including wildlife ecology, ecotoxicology, environmental toxicology, and environmental/analytical chemistry. Specific interests focus on three aspects:

Analytical techniques are developed to identify and characterize a suite of priority organic contaminants in sentinel wildlife species such as birds of prey. Contaminants of concern include flame retardants (FRs), perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), plasticizers and pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs).

Wildlife exposure to priority EOCs may be influenced by environmental factors such as the sources, transport pathways and environmental transformation of contaminants, as well as ecological factors such as dietary shift and migration. Particularly, stable isotope techniques are employed to elucidate dietary influences on wildlife exposure and trophodynamics of contaminants in food webs. Other elements, such as intra- and inter-species exposure variations along with influences from human activities, are also addressed.

Laboratory-controlled experiments are performed to address various toxic and ecotoxic endpoints of EOCs in model avian species. In ovo studies address impacts of contaminants on avian (chicken) embryo development, hepatic mRNA expression and survival. In vivo experiments address contaminant uptake and metabolizing kinetics in model species, and associated endocrine disruption effects. Threshold levels (e.g. non-observed-adverse-effect-level; NOAEL) for various endpoints are proposed based on laboratory experiments and are used to evaluate the exposure in wild avian species.

Research Projects

Terrestrial mammalian carnivores as biological indicators for persistent organic pollutants

Characterization of novel flame retardants and elucidation of their in situ exposure, in vitro metabolism and endocrine effects in the Laurentian Great Lakes ecosystems

Contamination of organophosphate flame retardants in San Francisco Bay ecosystems

Comparative study of avian exposure to organophosphate flame retardants and organophosphate pesticides

Pan-Canadian evaluation of gull exposure to organophosphate flame retardants

Temporal and spatial trends of emerging flame retardants in peregrine falcon ( Falco peregrinus ) eggs from the northeastern U.S., the San Francisco Bay area, Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes

Courses Taught