Dr. Kim Fernie

Research Scientist - Ecotoxicology: identifying and assessing effects of new and emerging contaminants of concern

Current research and/or projects

Contributing to Environment Canada’s mandate to ensure that wildlife is conserved and protected through conducting research on the effects of contaminants of concern, particularly new and emerging contaminants, on birds and other wildlife species

  • Effects of new and emerging chemicals, especially brominated flame retardants, on the reproduction, growth, behavior and endocrine function of free-ranging and captive birds (raptors, passerines), for use in environmental risk assessments and Canadian regulatory programs
  • Captive avian studies provide a comprehensive understanding of the effects of a particular compound on multiple stages and generations, permitting a better understanding of the impacts on wild birds without confounding challenges from habitat, climate, prey availability, and exposure to multiple contaminants
  • Impacts of chemicals and other compounds in municipal waste water effluent, in conjunction with ecological variables, on reproductive and endocrine systems of wild tree swallows and snapping turtles
  • Patterns, spatial and temporal trends in bioaccumulation of persistant organic pollutants and new and emerging compounds of interest on wildlife top predators (raptors and reptiles)
  • Developmental, physiological and endocrine impacts of persistent organic pollutants on avian and reptilian wildlife, including Species of Concern, e.g., peregrine falcons and the Lake Erie water snake, in the Great Lakes Basin

Professional activities / interests

Conducting and supervising ecotoxicology field research and laboratory research, including supervising post-doctoral fellows and co-supervising Ph.D and M.Sc. students as an adjunct professor at McGill University (Natural Resource Sciences)

Investigating the impacts of exposure to new and emerging chemicals, including brominated flame retardants (BFRs), and other compounds found in municipal effluent on birds and reptiles

Invited expert to review and interpret data on behalf of Canadian and international agencies (e.g., Hexabromocyclododecane, 2010: the United Nations Environment Programme, Secretariat of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants; Swedish Environmental Research Institute Ltd; Norwegian Climate and Pollution Agency; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; PBDE, 2009: Environment Canada, National Guidelines and Standards Office)

Journal paper reviews; Member of Scientific Committees, Session Organizer and Co-Chair of sessions at international conferences and workshops

Education and awards

Post-doctoral Fellow, University of Saskatchewan, 2000

Ph.D. Wildlife Biology, McGill University, 1998

M.Sc. Forestry and Environmental Studies, University of Toronto, 1993

Key publications

Fernie, K.J., and R.J. Letcher. 2010. Historical contaminants, flame retardants and halogenated phenolic compounds in peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) nestlings in the Canadian Great Lakes Basin. Environmental Science & Technology. 44: 3520-3526.

Marteinson, S.C., D.M. Bird, L.J. Shutt, R.J. Letcher, I.J. Ritchie, and K.J. Fernie. 2010. Multi-generational effects of PBDE exposure: Embryonic exposure of male American kestrels (Falco sparverius) to DE-71 flame retardant alters reproductive success and behaviors. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. 29(8): 1740-1747.

Sullivan, K.M., D.M. Bird, I.J. Ritchie, J.L. Shutt, R.J. Letcher, and K.J. Fernie. Changes in plasma retinol of American kestrels (Falco sparverius) in response to dietary or in ovo exposure to environmentally relevant concentrations of a penta-brominated diphenyl ether mixture, DE-71. Journal of Toxicolgy and Environmental Health. Accepted 21 May 2010.

Fernie, K.J., L.J. Shutt, R.J. Letcher, I.J. Ritchie, K. Sullivan, and D.M. Bird. 2009. Environmentally relevant concentrations of DE-71 and HBCD alter eggshell thickness and reproductive success of American kestrels. Environmental Science and Technology. 43(6):2124-2130

Fernie, K.J., L.J. Shutt, R.J. Letcher, J.I. Ritchie, K. Sullivan and D.M. Bird. 2008. Changes in reproductive courtship behaviors of adult American kestrels (Falco sparverius) exposed to environmentally relevant levels of the polybrominated diphenyl ether mixture, DE-71. Toxicological Sciences. 102: 171-178.

Fernie, K.J., R.B. King, K.G. Drouillard, and K.M. Stanford. 2008. Temporal and Spatial Patterns of Contaminants in Lake Erie Watersnakes (Nerodia sipedon insularum) Before and After the Round Goby (Apollonia melanostomus) Invasion. Science of the Total Environment. 406:344-351.

de Solla, S.R., K.J. Fernie, and S. Ashpole. 2008. Snapping turtles as bioindicators in Canadian Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes Basin. II. Changes in hatching success and hatchling deformities. Environmental Pollution. 153:529-536.

Fernie, K.J., L. Shutt, I.Ritchie, R. Letcher, K. Drouillard, and D.M. Bird. 2006. Changes in the growth, but not the survival, of American kestrels (Falco sparverius) exposed to environmentally relevant polybrominated diphenyl ethers. J. Toxicol. Environ. Health. 69A:1541-1554. Fifth most cited paper of JTEHa in 2006.