For the past two years, our team has used lanthanum, a rare earth metal, as a phosphorus remedation tool in freshwater lakes. Lanthanum binds to phosphorus in the water column, making the nutrient unusable by algae. As a result, algal blooms are reduced and water quality is restored and maintained. With preliminary success in mitigating phosphorus levels, we are conducting a secondary study to determine if lanthanum is accumulating in fish living in lakes treated with lanthanum. By ensuring no significant accumulation is occurring in lentic organisms, we build confidence in our promising treatment strategy.
To reach this goal, our team electrofished in our field and control sites to gather fish and compare lanthanum levels between the two locations in September 2021. We recently concluded laboratory analysis of liver and tissue samples from the collected specimen. Under field conditions, we found no significant difference in accumulation of lanthanum in fish living in the field and control site.
This summer, we are continuing to pursue our research question and are using bluegill fish electrofished in Lincoln, NE in laboratory experiments. Half of the electrofished bluegill fish are being raised in a lanthanum concentration above field site conditions, about 5.0 mg/L. The other half of the bluegill are being raised with no lanthanum present as a control group. The experiment will run for a total of 10 weeks and we will collect growth and behavioral measurements for the fish. Ultimately, we will perform the same tissue and liver analysis to see if lanthanum accumulated in the fish over the course of the experiment.
If you want to follow along with this project or see where Callie's future research goes follow them on: