What is it about?

Diluted bitumen (dilbit) is one of the main oil products transported across North America and not much is known about how these spills affect freshwater ecosystems. We intentionally released dilbit into large enclosures in a pristine lake in the Canadian boreal forest to examine the behaviour of the oil and the effects it has on all levels of the aquatic food web. This paper describes the impact of these oil spills on small-bodied fish (finescale dace) that were inhabiting the enclosures for two months as well as some unexpected aspects of using enclosures and advice for future studies of a similar nature.

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Why is it important?

This study suggests that there may be a threshold size of oil spill that results in small-bodied fish die off and indicates what range future studies should focus on. Additionally we discuss the usefulness and difficulties of using enclosures in ecosystem studies and provide some insight to future researchers.


The experiences gathered during this research has directly impacted my research since and I hope we offer direction to future studies, both on the toxicity of oil and the use of in lake enclosures.

Lauren Timlick
International Institute for Sustainable Development

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Responses of wild finescale dace (Phoxinus neogaeus) to experimental spills of Cold Lake Blend diluted bitumen at IISD Experimental Lakes Area, northwestern Ontario, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, August 2022, Wiley, DOI: 10.1002/etc.5457.
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