Picture of                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Karsten Liber

Karsten Liber PhD Executive Director (Interim), School of Environment and Sustainability

University of Saskatchewan Distinguished Professor

Room 329, Kirk Hall

Research Area(s)

  • Metal bioavailability and toxicity in aquatic ecosystems
  • Mining impacts on aquatic ecosystems
  • Sediment contamination and associated impact of benthic invertebrate communities
  • Derivation of water and sediment quality guidelines
  • Water quality assessments, including the use of autonomous water quality sensor systems
  • Pesticide ecotoxicology

Academic Credentials

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Biology (Aquatic Ecotoxicology), University of Guelph
  • Bachelor of Science in Ecology, University of Guelph


The Liber Lab - 2016

The Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Toxicology at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) offers Ph.D. and M.Sc. degrees with specialization across a wide range of toxicological expertise.

The interdisciplinary nature of the U of S Toxicology Program, along with the diverse interests of a large number of graduate faculty in the U of S Toxicology Group, provides students with a wide array of potential research opportunities.

Applicants to the Toxicology Graduate Program must possess a recognized undergraduate degree in the life or natural sciences. Undergraduate training should include basic courses in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, physiology, and statistics. Courses in environmental chemistry, ecology, and pharmacology or toxicology are desirable.

Toxicology: Water Quality, Aquatic Ecotoxicology

News and Media

Current Research

  • Distribution, speciation, bioavailability and food chain transfer of selenium in northern aquatic ecosystems.
  • Assessment of leaching of toxic constituents (e.g., vanadium) from oil sands coke and associated implications for use of coke in aquatic reclamation landscapes.
  • Assessment of industrial impacts and accidents on aquatic ecosystems.
  • Aquatic ecotoxicological risk assessment of pesticide use on the Canadian Prairie.

Selected Publications

Maloney, E., Morrissey, C., Headley, J., Peru, K., and Liber, K.  2017.  Cumulative toxicity of neonicotinoid insecticide mixtures to Chironomus dilutus under acute exposure scenarios.  Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 36(11): 3091-3101.  https://doi.org/10.1002/etc.3878

Friesen, V., Doig, L.E., Markwart, B.E., Haakensen, M., Tissier, E., and Liber, K.  2017.  Genetic characterization of periphyton communities associated with selenium bioconcentration and trophic transfer in a simple food chain.  Environmental Science and Technology, 51(13): 7532-7541.  https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.7b01001

Schiffer, S. and Liber, K.  2017.  Estimation of vanadium water quality benchmarks for the protection of aquatic life with relevance to the Athabasca Oil Sands region using species sensitivity distributions.  Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 36(11): 3034-3044.  https://doi.org/10.1002/etc.3871

Crawford, S.E., Lofts, S., and Liber, K.  2017.  The role of sediment properties and solution pH in the adsorption of uranium(VI) to freshwater sediments.  Environmental Pollution, 220(Part B): 873-881.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2016.10.071

Cavallaro, M.C., Morrissey, C.A., Headley, J.V., Peru, K.M., and Liber, K.  2017.  Comparative chronic toxicity of imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam to Chironomus dilutus and estimation of toxic equivalency factors.  Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 36(2): 372-382.  https://doi.org/10.1002/etc.3536

Crawford, S.E. and Liber, K.  2016.  Sediment properties influencing bioavailability of uranium to Chironomus dilutus larvae in spiked field sediments.  Chemosphere, 148: 77-85.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2015.12.123

Doig, L.E., Schiffer, S., and  Liber.K.  2015.  Reconstructing the ecological impacts of eight decades of mining, metallurgical and municipal activities on a small boreal lake in northern Canada.  Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, 11(3): 490-501.  https://doi.org/10.1002/ieam.1616

Morrissey, C.A., Mineau, P., Devries, J.H., Sanchez-Bayo, F., Liess, M., Cavallaro, M., and Liber, K.  2015.  Neonicotinoid contamination of global surface waters and associated risk to aquatic invertebrates: a review.  Environment International, 74: 291-303.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2014.10.024

Janz, D., K. Liber, I. Pickering, C. Wiramanaden, S. Weech, M. Gallego-Gallegos, M. Driessnack, E. Franz, M. Goertzen, J. Phibbs, J. Tse, K. Himbeault, E. Robertson, C. Burnett-Seidel, K. England and A. Gent.  2014.  Integrative assessment of selenium speciation, biogeochemistry and distribution in a northern coldwater ecosystem.  Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, 10(4): 543-554.  https://doi.org/10.1002/ieam.1560

Franz, E.D., Wiramanaden, C.I.E., Gallego-Gallegos, M., Tse, J.J., Phibbs, J., Janz, D.M., Pickering, I.J., and Liber, K.  2013.   An in situ assessment of selenium bioaccumulation from water-, sediment-, and dietary-exposure pathways using caged Chironomus dilutus larvae.  Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 32(12): 2836-2848.  https://doi.org/10.1002/etc.2382

Burnett-Seidel, C. and  Liber, K.  2013.  Derivation of no-effect and reference-level sediment quality values for application at Saskatchewan uranium operations.  Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 185(11): 9481-9494.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-013-3267-3

Gallego-Gallegos, M., Doig, L.E., Tse, J.J., Liber, K., and Pickering, I.J.  2013.  Bioavailability, toxicity and biotransformation of selenium in midge (Chironomus dilutus) larvae exposed via water or diet to elemental selenium particles, selenite, or selenized algae.  Environmental Science and Technology, 47(1): 584-592.  https://doi.org/10.1021/es300828r

Burnett-Seidel, C. and  Liber, K.  2012.  Evaluation of sediment quality guidelines derived using the screening-level concentration approach for application at uranium operations in Saskatchewan, Canada.  Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 184(3): 1593-1602.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-011-2063-1

Courses Taught

TOX 321 - Risk Assessment and Regulatory Toxicology