Myra Finkelstein: Wildlife Toxicology—Forging Links between Individual and Population Level Effects

Black-footed and Laysan albatrosses. Albatross photo by Tonya M. Haff.

Myra Finkelstein’s research focuses on human impacts to wildlife with an emphasis on contaminant-induced effects. To fulfill this goal, her research seeks to develop links in the often difficult-to-understand causal chain between physiological responses to contaminants and population-level impacts of these effects. In particular, she examines: i) how contaminant exposure affects the physiology of individuals, especially in wild populations, ii) what generates the wide distributions of contaminant levels often seen across individuals and between populations, iii) how contaminant-induced effects in individuals can be translated to population-level impacts. Thus, a portion of Myra’s research lies squarely in the discipline of ecotoxicology – the study of contaminant effects at the cellular to whole organism levels. However, much of her research interests focus on understanding when and why these individual effects will have population-wide ramifications – a key area that has not been well studied and where there are still more questions than answers.

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