Dilbit for Dinner

Johanna Mason, QE3 Graduate Student, presented the Environmental Studies Seminar on April 4. Johanna’s talk focussed on research she and collaborators conducted during the summer of 2018 at the IISD-Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario. Her presentation was titled, “Dilbit for dinner: Using stable isotope analysis to trace carbon from a diluted bitumen spill into the aquatic food web.”

Johanna Mason speaking on BOREAL research project
Johanna Mason presenting the April 4 Environmental Studies Seminar Series.

Johanna gave a brief overview of the goals of BOREAL (Boreal lake Oil Release Experiment by Additions to Limnocorrals) study, a multi-institutional project that placed nine 10m diameter mesocosms in a lake at the ELA. She then explained her contribution to the project in greater detail: she used stable isotope analysis to track the movement of diluted bitumen (dilbit) through the food web. Preliminary results indicate that some organisms uptake more carbon from dilbit than others and that generally, time integrated organisms show a stronger trend. This novel application of stable isotope analysis to a freshwater dilbit spill presents an additional fate of dilbit in the environment and shows the potential of stable isotope analysis in a biomonitoring capacity.