Michael R. van den Heuvel

BSc, PhD
Canada Research Chair
Phone: 
(902) 566-6072
Department: 
Biology
Office: 
Duffy Science Centre, 429
Education: 
PhD (Waterloo)
BSc Hons. Co-op (Waterloo)

Dr. Michael van den Heuvel, Canada Research Chair in Watershed Ecological Integrity, studies the effects of agriculture and chemical use on freshwater and coastal environments. His focus is the endocrine responses, immunotoxicology, and population health of fish. He is working to develop methods and solutions to best monitor environmental problems and better protect rivers in Prince Edward Island.

Work Experience:

  • Aquatic Ecotoxicology Program Leader, New Zealand Forest Research Institute Limited (trading as Scion), Rotorua, New Zealand.05/98-08/05.
  • Research Associate and Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. 04/95-04/98.

Environmental toxicology is directed to predicting and understanding the potential impacts of human activity on organisms within the environment. However, some ecologists, including myself, consider that we cannot rely on rediction alone to prevent adverse changes to fish and wildlife populations. Prediction of impacts in complex systems, if possible, is at best difficult, given our current level of knowledge. In practice, virtually all documented environmental impacts on animal populations have been discovered through empirical observation in the field. On this premise, the general research objective of our research team is to increase our ability to detect and determine the causes of changes to fish populations by better understanding how toxic chemicals act from molecular to the ecosystem levels of biological organization.

A large component of our research examines ways of recognizing environmental impacts on fish populations in the field. This will be applied to freshwater and estuarine systems in the Atlantic Provinces, particularly Prince Edward Island, where land-use practices and pesticide use are know to have strong influences on aquatic systems. The specific focus of laboratory investigations will be on the mechanisms by which toxicants exert their effects on two systems relevant to population integrity: reproduction and immune function. Study of subtle reproductive impacts on fishes is topical as numerous studies have revealed that industrial chemicals or pesticides can have adverse effects on reproduction, even at very low doses. Research examines aspects of reproduction that are unique to fishes on the basis that these differences may make fishes particularly susceptible to particular types of chemicals. As compared to reproductive effects, impacts on the immune system have received little study. Observation of disease in the field represents the most relevant endpoint of immune toxicology however, our research will not only attempts to document cases of pollution induced disease, but concentrate on obtaining a better understanding of the mechanisms – how specifically to particular chemicals act on the immune system? The outcome of our research will be to improve methods of recognizing the impacts of chemicals on fishes. By gaining a better understanding of how particular chemicals exert their effect; we will be better able to determine the cause of changes where they are observed to occur.

  • ​Full Appointment to Biomedical Sciences Department, Atlantic Veterinary College
  • Honorary Lecturer, Waikato University, Department of Biological Sciences, Hamilton, New Zealand
  • Adjunct Faculty, Queens University, Department of Biology, Kingston, Ontario
  • Member, Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC)
  • Member, International Association of Great Lakes Research (IAGLR)
  • Drs. Nick Ling, Brendan Hicks and David Hamilton, Centre for Biodiversity and Ecological Research (CBER),University of Waikato, Department of Biological Sciences, Hamilton, New Zealand
  • Dr. Michael Landman, Scion Group, Rotorua, New Zealand
  • Dr. Louis Tremblay, Canterbury University and LandcareResearch, Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Dr. Jamie Ataria, Landcare Research, Lincoln, New Zealand
  • Dr. Fred Leusch, CRC for Water Quality and Treatment,Brisbane, Australia
  • Dr. Peter Hodson,Queen’s University, Department of Biology
  • Dr. Daniel Dietrich, Konstanz UniversityDrs. Bernd Koellner and Uwe Fischer, Friedrich Loeffler Institute, Insel Riems, Germany

Current Graduate Students

  • Cheryl Wartman Ph.D. (to start Jan 06). Endocrine-disrupting effects mediated by androgens.
  • Tommy Galant Ph.D. Primary co-supervisor Colins Kamunde, UPEI. Understanding mechanisms of chronic levels of cadmium
  • Scott Fraser Ph.D. Co-supervised with Roberta Farrell, Waikato University. Effects of pulp and paper waste solids on soil ecosystems
  • Gerty Gielen Ph.D. Co-supervised with Laurie Greenfield, Canterbury University. Effects of pharmaceuticals in sewage on soil ecosystems
  • Brenda Ballie Ph.D. Co-supervised with Brendan Hicks, Waikato University. Effect of woody debris on stream ecosystems.
  • David West Ph.D. Co-supervised with Brendan Hicks and Nicholas Ling, Waikato University. Cumulative impacts on a large NZ river system.
  • Wade Tozer Ph.D. Co-supervised with Warwick Sylvester, Waikato University. Stable isotopes for identification of nutrient sources.

Former Graduate Students

  • Emil Bandelj M.Sc. In vitro techniques for measuring endocrine disrupting compounds. Co-supervised with Dr. Lynda McCarthy, RyersonUniversity
  • Stephanie Hawkins M.Sc. Aquatic toxicity of pulp and paper waste solids. Co-supervised with Dr. Peter Hodson, Queen’s University
  • Chris McBride M.Sc. Stable isotopes in lake food webs. Co-supervised with Dr. Brendan Hicks, Waikato University
  • Murray Smith M.Sc. Quantitative proteomics techniques. Co-supervised with Dr. Nick Ling, Waikato University
  • Birgit Hoeger Ph.D. Immune impacts of sewage effluent. Co-supervised with Dr. Daniel Dietrich, Konstanz University
  • Michael Landman Ph.D. Pulp mill effluent hypoxia interactions on fish physiology. Co-supervised with Dr. Nick Ling, Waikato, University
  • Rosanne Ellis Ph.D. Reproductive effects of pulp and paper effluent on fish. Co-supervised with Dr. Nick Ling, Waikato, University
Contact UPEI