ArcticNet - About us

Sonja Ostertag
McGill University

I am currently completing my PhD at the University of Northern British Columbia. My research is focused on mercury in the brains of beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) and whether these levels are associated with neurotoxicity. I am a member of a larger research team that is studying the impact of anthropogenic stressers (e.g. contaminants, climate change and hydrocarbon development) on beluga health in the western Canadian Arctic. Although belugas are known to bioaccumulate mercury during their lifetime, the form of mercury present in the brain will dictate toxic outcomes. I will analyze the concentration of mercury and mercury species, and stochiometric ratio of mercury to selenium to assess the risk of current mercury levels in beluga brains. Furthermore, neurochemical biomarkers will be used to determine whether variation in neurochemistry is associated with exposure to mercury. Local observations on beluga behaviour during harvesting will be used to assess whether elevated mercury is associated with unusual behaviour. I studied Environmental Science at the McGill School of Environment and I graduated in 2004 with a BSc. For my Masters, I studied Inuit dietary exposure to perfluorinated compounds in Nunavut. I began my PhD in September 2007 in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies at UNBC.


Project Member

Knowledge Co-Production for the Identification and Selection of Ecological, Social, and Economic Indicators for the Beaufort Sea

Primary Address

Phone: (250) 960-5676