Fish Biomonitoring and Ecotoxicology

Various types of biological responses in fish are used to determine exposure to pollution and other environmental stressors.

Dr Kathryn Hassell holding a smooth toadfish (Tetractenos glaber) from Port Phillip Bay. CAPIM
uses smooth toadfish for pollution biomonitoring in estuaries around Victoria.

Fish Biomonitoring and Ecotoxicology

This research utilises various types of biological responses in fish to determine exposure to pollution and other environmental stressors.

In the laboratory, we expose different life stages (predominantly embryos and larvae) to specific pollutants and examine how these affect fish development, growth and survival. From this we can determine toxicity thresholds and cause and effect relationships between pollutant concentrations and biological responses.

For field studies, we sample fish from multiple waterways and measure biological indicators such as biochemical markers, histology and morphology to determine fish health at these sites, which may relate to pollution exposure.

This research aims to develop standard freshwater and estuarine test species for ecological and ecotoxicological research using locally relevant, native species. Ecotoxicological information is very sparse for Australian fishes, so whilst challenging, this research advances our knowledge of local species responses to pollution, providing water managers the information they need to effectively manage aquatic pollution issues in Victoria.

For more information, please contact Dr Kathryn Hassell khassell@unimelb.edu.au.