Kelly Munkittrick

Professor; Campus Alberta Innovation Program Chair in Aquatic Ecosystem Health

Department of Biological Sciences

PhD - Aquatic Toxicology

University of Waterloo

MSc - Environmental Physiology

University of Guelph

BSc - Fish and Wildlife Biology

University of Guelph

Contact information

Office hours

By appointment or when door is open


Areas Of Expertise

  • Cumulative Effects Assessment
  • Environmental Effects Monitoring
  • Ecotoxicology
  • Fish populations, growth
  • Fish reproduction


My research is primarily field-based and focused on measuring the responses of wild fishes to natural and anthropogenic stressors including pulp mills, oil refineries, oil sands operations, agriculture), and municipalities, on examining the suitability of laboratory studies for predicting field effects, and on the use of alternate approaches for detecting impacts.

Most recently my focus has been on developing adaptive, tiered and triggered monitoring frameworks, and in linking the various monitoring programs exist to a common philosophical foundation and integrated management framework.  Long term data sets are used to define “normal ranges” for monitoring parameters ranging from water quality measurements and benthic invertebrate community information, to fish population metrics.

My academic studies are focused on testing hypotheses about the role that variation in fish reproductive life histories plays in species differences in sensitivity to environmental contamination.  I developed an effects-based ecosystem health assessment approach focused on fish life history information on growth rates, reproductive rates, survival, and indicators of condition which is used to generate and test site-specific hypotheses related to identifying stressors responsible for changes in fish populations. 


I received a B.Sc. in Fish and Wildlife biology in 1980 and a M.Sc. in environmental physiology in 1983, both from the University of Guelph. He completed his PhD in 1988 in Aquatic Toxicology at the University of Waterloo.

Most recently, I was the Executive Director of Cold Regions and Water Initiatives at Wilfrid Laurier University.  Prior to Laurier, I was the Director of Monitoring at Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA; 2013-2017), where I worked to help the oil sands industry adjust to a new regional environmental monitoring framework, and to align monitoring across oil sands companies.  I previously also held a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Ecosystem Health Assessment at the University of New Brunswick (2001-2013), and 11 years as a Research Scientists with the Canadian Federal Government (6 at Fisheries and Oceans and 5 at Environment Canada). 

I am a co-founder of the Canadian Rivers Institute, was the Scientific Director of the Canadian Water Network, and have sat on scientific panels for UNEP, OECD, and the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission. I have developed regional monitoring programs in South America, Asia and North America, have worked with various governments to improve environmental assessment models, and have taught environmental monitoring study design in more a dozen countries.


Pavione, P.D., K.G. da Costa, C. Perônico, M.E. MacMaster, J.L. Parrott, L.M. Hewitt, K.R. Munkittrick, F.C.C. Barreto, T.H. Basilo, M.G. Paes, R.W. Reis Filho, T.H. Furley. (2019). Development of environmental effects monitoring protocol in Brazil: A Fish Guide study of three river estuaries. Environ. Monitor. Assess. 191 (11) DOI: 10.1007/s10661-019-7860-y

Vergara, E.G., V. Hernández, K.R. Munkittrick, R. Barra, C. Galban-Malagon, and G. Chiang. 2019. Presence of organochlorine pollutants in fat and scats of pinnipeds from Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands, and their relationship to trophic position.  Sci Tot Envir: 685: 1276-1283

Munkittrick, K.R., T.J. Arciszewski and M.A. Gray. 2019. Principles and Challenges for Multi-Stakeholder Development of Focused, Tiered, and Triggered, Adaptive Monitoring Programs for Aquatic Environments. Diversity 11, 155; doi:10.3390/d11090155

Kilgour, B., K. Munkittrick, L. Hamilton, C.L. Proulx, K.M. Somers, T. Arciszewski and M. McMaster.  2019. Developing triggers for environmental effects monitoring programs for Trout-perch in the Lower Athabasca River. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 38: 1890-1901 doi: 10.1002/etc.4469

Tanna, R.N., A.D. Redman, R.A. Frank, T.J. Arciszewski, W.A. Zubot, F.J. Wrona, J.A. Brogly, and K.R. Munkittrick. 2019. Overview of existing science to inform oil sands process water release - A technical workshop summary.  Integr. Environ. Assess Managem. 15: 519-527 DOI: 10.1002/ieam.4149

Orrego, R., L.M. Hewitt, M. McMaster, G. Chiang, M. Quiroz, K. Munkittrick, J.F. Gavilán and R. Barra. 2019. Assessing wild fish exposure to ligands for sex steroid receptors from pulp and paper mill effluents in the Biobio River Basin, Central Chile. Ecotox Environ Saf 171: 256-263. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2018.12.092

Somers, KM, BW Kilgour and KR Munkittrick. 2019.  Can statistical analyses account for the effect of interrelatedness in assessments using multiple environmental parameters?  Integr. Environ. Assess Managem. 15: 662-664

Bahamonde, P., C. Berrocal, M.E. McMaster, R. Barra, K.R. Munkittrick and G. Chiang.  2019. Mucus phosphoproteins as an indirect measure of endocrine disruption in native small-bodied freshwater fish, exposed to wastewater treatment plant and pulp and paper mill effluents. Gayana 83(1): 10-20 DOI: 10.4067/S0717-65382019000100010

Arciszewski, T.J., R.R. Hazewinkel, K.R. Munkittrick and B. W. Kilgour. 2018. Developing and applying control charts to detect change in water chemistry parameters measured in the Athabasca River near the Oil Sands: A tool for surveillance monitoring. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 37: 2296-2311

Gray MA, RA Curry, TJ Arciszewski, KR Munkittrick and SM Brasfield. 2018. The biology and ecology of slimy sculpin: A recipe for effective environmental monitoring. FACETS 3: 103–127. doi:10.1139/facets-2017-0069

Somers, K.M., B.W. Kilgour, K.R. Munkittrick, T.J. Arciszewski. 2018. An adaptive environmental effects monitoring framework for assessing the influences of liquid effluents on benthos, water, and sediments in aquatic receiving environments. Integr. Environ. Assess. Managem.14: 552-566  DOI:10.1002/ieam.4060

Dansie, A.P., D.S.G. Thomas, G.F.S. Wiggs, and K.R. Munkittrick. 2018. Spatial variability of ocean fertilising nutrients in the dust-emitting ephemeral river catchments of Namibia. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 43: 563-578 doi: 10.1002/esp.4207

Arciszewski, T.J., K.R. Munkittrick, B.W. Kilgour, H.M. Keith, J.E. Linehan and M.E. McMaster. 2017.  Increased size and abundance of migratory fishes observed near the Athabasca oil sands.  FACETS 2: 833–858. doi:10.1139/facets-2017-0028

Arciszewski, T.J., K.R. Munkittrick, G.J. Scrimgeour, M.G. Dube, F.J. Wrona and R.R. Hazewinkel.  2017.  Using adaptive principles to develop meaningful, robust and actionable environmental monitoring programs. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management 13: 877-891 DOI: 10.1002/ieam.1938


SETAC IEAM (Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management journal) paper of the year (2015)

SETAC Global Partners Capacity-Building Award (2012)

University of Waterloo 50th Anniversary Science Alumni of Honour Award (2007)