Multi-park Fish Sample Analysis Opportunity - Request for Statements of Interests

By Water Resources Division

The National Park Service (NPS) is requesting information on the interest of potential
investigator(s) in collaborating on a project(s) to conduct additional analyses on fish (>1,500) from eastern U.S. national parks.

Collected in 2015 and 2016, 5 g muscle samples from these fish were/are being analyzed for mercury concentrations by the United States Geological Survey Forest and Rangeland Ecological Science Center (USGS-FRESC) Contaminant Ecology Lab in Corvallis, OR. This work is part of the ongoing NPS/USGS Eastern Fish Mercury Study, a project designed to assess mercury concentrations and mercury isotopes in fish. The fish carcasses remain frozen (< -20°C) at USGS in Corvallis. Rather than discard them, the NPS is seeking input and expressions of potential interest from the scientific community regarding additional analyses/assessments that could be conducted on this unique assemblage of fish. The fish samples represent close to 30 species (major taxa include bass, catfish, sunfish, trout), originating from approximately 70 water bodies and 25 NPS units in the eastern U.S. Comprehensive meta-data (e.g., park, site, species, length) of each sample is available as supplemental information.

Responses to this request will be used to identify potential investigator(s) with whom the NPS Air Resources Division (ARD) and Water Resources Division (WRD) will work to develop one or more collaborative projects. Project funding mechanisms are not currently in place, but could include the NPS-USGS Water Quality Partnership (requires a USGS PI), the NPS Servicewide Comprehensive Call (SCC) for Natural Resources, direct funding by ARD and/or WRD, or other sources identified by interested parties. Investigators could also be affiliated with other Federal Agencies or with Universities under the Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (CESU) partnership with the NPS. Any study project award amount will be dependent on final approved project budget(s), NPS determination of available funds, management needs, and scientific merit.

The NPS has discussed numerous options for these fish samples, including: analyses of pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and/or other contaminants of emerging concern; comparison of contaminant burdens to thresholds established for human and wildlife health; gene expression related to nervous system development and function; hormone extraction for evidence of endocrine disruption; causal relationships; or fish population genetics. We are particularly interested in having additional analyses conducted that will yield relevant information that parks can directly use in improving management of fisheries or related resources in parks. For example, improving gene pools, or identifying, reducing, and/or mitigating the impacts of stressors (e.g., contaminants) on native fish species and/or healthy aquatic habitats. Based on interest and responses received, the NPS will select one or more investigator(s) to collaborate with on the development of either a study plan and formal agreement, or a detailed proposal to submit to an existing competitive funding source. Written Statements of Interest are due to the NPS by December 15, 2016. The NPS will notify investigators of Request for Interest (RFI) outcomes on January 4, 2017.


Up to 15 fish per species were collected per site, often with more than one species collected. Fish were collected primarily by NPS staff using standard methods (e.g. hook and line, gillnet, beach seines, electroshocking), preserved in a holding tank, euthanized (following AMVA guidelines and approved IACUC protocol* ), tagged, wrapped in foil, and placed in individually-labeled Ziploc bags, then stored on wet or dry ice in the field until transferred to a laboratory freezer (< -20°C). Fish were then shipped overnight on dry ice to USGS.

During processing of the fish for mercury analyses, fish were identified to species, length and mass measured, and sex determined where possible. For each fish, approximately 5 g of skinless axial muscle was removed for mercury analysis. The livers, brains, and sagittal otoliths were dissected out and remain frozen for additional analyses. All fish carcasses – those available for this proposed work – are archived in a monitored freezer (< -20°C) with remote failure notification and emergency backup power.

Description of Anticipated Products

Examples of project deliverables include: the raw data from all analyses; database of all fish utilized; results; final completion report; fact sheet for park management; and manuscript(s) submitted to a peer-reviewed journal.

Roles and Responsibilities

The final roles and responsibilities of National Park Service staff and principal investigator(s) will be dependent on the proposal(s) and selected study plan strategy. NPS staff from ARD and WRD will be involved in both the selection of a project investigator(s) and the development and review of any resulting project study plan.

Materials Requested for Statement of Interest

Please prepare a written summary not exceeding three pages (single-spaced, 11-point font, 1-inch margins) that describes how you envision contributing to this project.

1. Name, Organization, and Contact Information

2. Statement of Qualifications that includes:

a. Biographical sketch;

b. Relevant past projects and clients with a description of each project(s);

c. Staff, faculty, students, or other partners available to work on this project and their areas of expertise; and

d. Description of any other capabilities you may have to successfully complete the project (e.g., lab, data/GIS/analyses capabilities, access to other sources of information, previous research experience with fish).

3. General ideas (approach) for how you propose to use the existing fish samples and how the results would be relevant to NPS management actions and eastern parks.

Please submit this summary via e-mail attachment to and by December 15, 2016. A proposed budget is NOT requested at this time however general cost estimates for several potential funding levels might be helpful.

For further information or questions, please contact the ARD/WRD project managers Colleen Flanagan Pritz (303-969-2806)/Kerensa King (970-267-7229).


Review of Interest Statements and Selection of Investigator(s)

Interest statements will be evaluated based on the investigator(s) specific experience and capabilities in conducting the work using the methodologies proposed. Past history in applying analyses to NPS management or policy issues will be considered, but is not a requirement.

Based on a review of the Statements of Interest and Qualifications received, one or more investigator(s) will be invited to prepare a joint NPS-Investigator study proposal for either an existing or future funding source. Selection will occur on January 4, 2017.