Intersex Sturgeon on the Missouri River? The effects of emerging contaminants on a big river
Published: July 9, 2013
Presentation by – Diana Papoulias, PhD, Research Fish Biologist – US Geological Survey Columbia Environmental Research Center
- Tuesday, July 9, 2013, at Les Bourgeois Bistro in Rocheport, MO
- Tuesday, October 28, 2014, at Healthy Rivers Partnership Office, Kansas City, MO
- Click here to watch a video of Diana’s presentation recorded by KCDV.
- Click here to download pdf of presentation
In 2000, research fish biologist Diana Papoulias began documenting an uptick in previously rare cases of intersex shovelnose sturgeon. These Missouri River fish were developing both male and female reproductive organs.
Those fish were shovelnose sturgeon, which are considered a valid experimental surrogate for the federally endangered pallid sturgeon. Diana’s discovery began more than a decade of research into this phenomena, focusing on finding the chemical and environmental causes that are present in Missouri River water that might be effecting the reproduction of the pallid.
This research has been ongoing during a period when a lot of research into “emerging contaminants” in our water supply has shown disturbing effects of phyto-estrogen compounds and other endocrine disrupting chemicals.
- Diana described the reproductive effects they’ve documented in fish, what is known about the chemical contaminants in the Missouri River, and the pathways for how these chemicals are causing such dramatic changes in fish.
Diana Papoulias, PhD, is a retired Research Fish Biologist at the USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center. The primary focus of her study is to investigate factors that disrupt normal developmental and reproductive processes in fishes. In 2014 and 2015, she served as the fish biologist and toxicologist on the XXpedition, an all-woman team of scientists, activists and artists studying plastics in the Atlantic Ocean.
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Resources and Links
- Diana Papoulias, PhD, USGS – staff bio
- Diana’s bio on the XXpedition website
- “Missouri River Researcher to Discuss how Estrogen-like Compounds Affect Sturgeon” – by Brendan Gibbons, Columbia Missourian, July 8, 2013
- “Columbia Researchers Study Intersex Sturgeon in Missouri River” – by Katy Bergen, Columbia Missourian, Dec. 6, 2010
- “Feminized Fish: A Side Effect of Emerging Contaminants” (audio – Sept. 6, 2012, KAOW)
- FAQs on endocrine disrupting chemicals (EnToxNet)
- “Emerging Contaminants in the Environment” (USGS) – a wealth of links to articles and studies.
- “Endocrine Disruption” (USGS) – links to articles and studies.
- “Estrogen in Waterways Worse than Thought” (by Allison Winter, Scientific American – June 4, 2009)
The Big Muddy Speaker Series
The series is a collaboration of these wonderful partners –
- Missouri River Relief
- Healthy Rivers Partnership
- Greenway Network
- Friends of Lakeside Nature Center
- Big Muddy Adventures
- Little Blue River Watershed Coalition
- Friends of Big Muddy
Check out our homepage for more info on upcoming presentations in each location.