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Daniel Cain


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Short Biography

M.A. Biology, San Jose State University

B.A. Biology, San Jose State University


Dan Cain is a research biologist with the National Research Program in Menlo Park, CA. Dan conducts basic and applied research of processes driving metal bioaccumulation dynamics and toxicity in aquatic animals with the overarching objective of advancing scientific understanding of how metal contamination disrupts surface water ecosystems. In addition to advancing environmental science, generally, the information gained by the research is expected to reduce uncertainties in the assessment and management of risk posed by metal contamination. Presently, his research is examining geochemical factors affecting the bioavailability and toxicity of solid-phase metals as part of a multidiscipline effort to better characterize the ecological risks of metal mining.  



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Cain, D.J., Croteau, M-N., Fuller, C. C., and Ringwood, A.H., 2016, Dietary uptake of Cu sorbed to hydrous iron oxide is linked to cellular toxicity and feeding inhibition in a benthic grazer. Environmental Science and Technology. [Link]

Cain, D.J., Thompson, J.K., Crauder, J., Parchaso, F., Kleckner, A.E., Dyke, J., Hornberger, M.I., and Luoma, S.N. 2015, Near-field receiving water monitoring of trace metals and a benthic community near the Palo Alto Regional Water Quality Control Plant in south San Francisco Bay, California, 2014, U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015-1199, 79 p., [Link]

Selected Publications

Croteau, M.N., Cain, D.J., and Fuller, C.C., 2013, Novel and nontraditional use of stable isotopic traces to study metal bioavailability from natural particles: Environmental Science and Technology, v. 47, p. 3424-3431.

Cain, D.J., Croteau, M.N., and Fuller, C.C., 2013, Dietary bioavailability of Cu sorbed to colloidal hydrous ferric oxide: Environmental Science and Technology, v. 47, p. 2869-2876.

Cain, D., Croteau, M.N., and Luoma, S.N., 2011, Bioaccumulation dynamics and exposure routes of Cd and Cu among species of aquatic mayflies: Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, v. 30, p. 2532-2541

Luoma, S.N., Cain, D.J., and Rainbow, P.S., 2009, Calibrating biomonitors to ecological disturbance: a new techniques for explaining metal effects in natural waters: Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, v. 6, p. 199-209.

Cain, J.D., Buchwalter, D.B., and Luoma, S.N., 2006, Influence of metal exposure history on the bioaccumulation and subcellular distribution of aqueous cadmium in the insect Hydropsyche californica: Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, v. 25, p. 1042-1049.

Cain, D.J., Luoma, S.N., and Wallace, W.G., 2004, Linking metal bioaccumulation of aquatic insects to their distribution patterns in a mining-impacted river: Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, v. 23, p. 1463-1473.

Maret, T. R., Cain, D. J., MacCoy, D. E., and Short, T. M., 2003, Response of benthic invertebrate assemblages to metal exposure and bioaccumulation associated with hard-rock mining in northwestern streams, USA: Journal of the North American Benthological Society, v. 22, p. 598-620.

Cain, D. J., Carter, J. L., Fend, S. V., Luoma, S. N., Alpers, C. N., and Taylor, H. E., 2000, Metal exposure to a benthic macroinvertebrate, Hydropsyche californica, related to mine drainage in the Sacramento River:  Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, v. 57, p. 380-390.

Cain, D J., Luoma SN, 1998, Metal exposures to native populations of the caddisfly Hydropsyche (Trichoptera: Hydropsychidae) determined from cytosolic and whole body metal exposures: Hydrobiologia, v. 386, p. 103-117.

Cain, D. J., Luoma, S. N., and Axtmann, E. V., 1995, The influence of gut content in aquatic insects on assessments of environmental metal contamination. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, v. 52, p. 2736-2746.

Cain, D. J., Luoma, S. N., Carter, J. L., and Fend, S. V., 1992, Aquatic insects as bioindicators of trace element contamination in cobble-bottom river and streams: Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, v. 49, p. 2141-2154.

Cain, D. J., and Luoma, S. N., 1990, Influence of seasonal growth, age and environmental exposure on Cu and Ag in a bivalve indicator, Macoma balthica, in San Francisco Bay: Marine Ecology Progress Series, v. 60, p. 44-45.

Johansson, C., Cain, D. J., and Luoma, S. N., 1986, Variability in the fractionation of Cu, Ag, and Zn among cytosolic proteins in the bivalve Macoma balthica: Marine Ecology Progress Series, v. 28, p. 87-97.


My Science Topics

Science Topic
Ecology and Environmentaquatic ecosystems
Environmental Issuesabandoned mines and quarries
Environmental Issuestoxic trace elements
Environmental Issuesmine drainage

My USGS Science Strategy Areas

Understanding Ecosystems & Predicting Ecosystems Change

Dietary Cu uptake from a mineral particle causes toxicity in a benthic grazer

Image of Current Focus for Dietary Cu uptake from a mineral particle causes toxicity in a benthic grazer

Incidental ingestion of metal-bearing mineral particles has been shown to be a source of dietary metal uptake in stream fauna. However, the link between dietary uptake and toxicity is not firmly established.  A recently published study (Cain and others, 2015) is the first to clearly demonstrate a connection between dietary Cu uptake, cellular toxicity, and feeding inhibition in an invertebrate model species, the gastropod Lymnaea stagnalis. The results of this study showed a progressive impairment of feeding rate and increase in the incidence of lysosomal damage (an indicator of cytotoxicity) as the rate of dietary Cu uptake increased. Uptake rate, rather than the total accumulated body burden, is likely the key determinant of toxicity, which is expressed in an array of sublethal endpoints, including feeding rates, a high order effect that has important implications for popuation fitness.  By concurrently examining metal exposure, uptake, and biomarkers under various experimental conditions, geochemical and physiological processes moderating the exposure-response relationship may be constrained. Eventually, this will remove some of the uncertainty in assessing risks from dietary metals. 

Contact Information

Daniel Cain
345 Middlefield Road
Menlo Park, CA 94025
650-329-4463 - Fax
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