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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 where he has worked since 1978. áDan’s research addresses the fate and effects of inorganic contaminants in aquatic ecosystems. His work has focused on biotic and abiotic processes underlying metal bioaccumulation and toxicity in aquatic animals with the goal of improvingápredictive capabilities for metal bioaccumulation and risk. The information gained by the research is applicable to monitoring, management, and restoration of aquatic resources. Presently, his research is examining geochemical factors affecting the bioavailability of solid-phase metals as part of a multidiscipline effort to better understand the ecological risks of metal mining.


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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

Mineral particles at mining sites are a source of dietary metal to stream organisms

Image of Current Focus for Mineral particles at mining sites are a source of dietary metal to stream organisms

Neutralization of acidic surface water from mines produces metal-enriched colloidal particles (defined as particles between 1 nm to 1 Ám in size) such as hydrous iron oxides (HFO). Once formed, these particles aggregate and settle onto the streambed over great distances. Inadvertent ingestion of colloids could be an important metal exposure route to benthic organisms that can subsequently propagate to higher trophic levels. However, studies evaluating their contribution to dietary metal uptake and potential risk are lacking.

Working with synthetic and natural particles, representative of those produced at acid mine drainage sites, we have shown that copper can be accumulated directly from particles when they are incidentally ingested with food. While it was known that some organisms absorb much of their metals from food, now it appears that the mineral particles themselves are a potentially important source of metals. These findings have implications for assessments of metal exposure and ecological risk at mining sites. For example, where water is assumed to be the principal exposure route, metal accumulation and risk to aquatic organisms could be greatly underestimated.

Contact Information

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