Laboratories and research support: ecosystem health research laboratory

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Ecosystem Health Research Laboratory

Located at the National Wildlife Research Centre, the new Ecosystem Health Research Laboratory will serve researchers working in the Ecosystem and Wildlife Health Division. The laboratory will help researchers conduct analyses that examine the effects of multiple stressors on wildlife and their habitats.

Scientist collecting northern fulmar eggs from High Arctic colony

Research staff who study a variety of topics in the field of ecotoxicology will utilize the laboratory to examine how anthropogenic activities, alone and in combination, can negatively affect ecosystem health and function.

Samples are collected from the wild or, in the case of plants, grown indoors under controlled conditions in the Greenhouse and Growth Chambers at the National Wildlife Research Centre.

Current research and methodology

The Ecosystem Health Research Laboratory continues to expand its expertise to respond to new concerns, and many of the activities identified below that are not already underway are planned in the near future.

Collecting kittiwake eggs from Arctic seabird colony
These activities include:
  • Developing a suite of new standard guidelines and test methods for toxicity testing using plants, in association with activities being conducted in the Greenhouse and Growth Chambers
  • Assessing biodiversity in agrarian systems using improved methodology (see also agriculture, land-use and ecosystems)
  • Developing and validating new methods to measure stable isotopes and ecological tracers in wildlife to determine how ecosystem change affects food web structure, diet composition, and health of wildlife
  • Developing methylmercury sensitivity thresholds in Arctic marine birds to expand on knowledge of the levels, trends and effects of contaminants on wildlife 
  • Developing methods to quantify pesticide exposure and the potential for direct and indirect pesticide effects in birds and mammals
  • Developing standard guidelines and toxicity test methods for toxicity testing with native amphibians
  • Developing methods to examine disease incidence and effects in native amphibians


Experts using the Ecosystem Health Research Laboratory work with many other researchers within Environment Canada, including those using the Greenhouse and Growth Chambers, Laboratory Services, and others at the National Wildlife Research Centre. In addition, wildlife researchers work closely with toxicologists at the Atlantic Laboratory for Environmental Testing and at the Pacific and Yukon Laboratory for Environmental Testing.

Greenhouse at the National Wildlife Research Centre

The Ecosystem Health Research Laboratory hosts collaborative investigations with students and academia, and users represent Canada on various international expert working groups associated with such organizations as the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, the European Food and Safety Authority, and the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme of the Arctic Council.

Northern leopard frog study to determine ideal breeding conditions

Further reading


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