SETAC North America 2011, in Boston


Session Title: Advances in Ecological Modeling for Assessing Ecological Risks and Ecosystem Services
Co-Chairs: John D. Stark, Washington State University and Pernille Thorbek, Syngenta, UK

Session Abstract: Current approaches used to assess the ecological risks of toxic chemicals are based on a limited number of measures of organism-level effects (e.g., survival, growth, and reproductive endpoints) in laboratory toxicity tests. However, most protection goals stated in environmental regulations or natural resource agency policies are aimed at the population level or higher. This is increasingly the case as several regulatory bodies are reviewing protection goals relative to the Ecosystem Services concept and associated views of ecosystem functioning. Consequently, there is a mismatch between what is measured in standard ecotoxicity tests and what should be protected.   Moreover, there is a need for risk assessment methods to link endpoints in laboratory ecotoxicity tests with higher level endpoints characteristic of protection goals. Ecological models such as population models, ecosystem models, and toxicokinetic/bioenergetics models can make use of standard data to assess the risk at levels of organization relevant for protection goals. Thus, appropriate ecological models can provide a powerful basis for expressing ecological risk estimates that better inform the environmental management process and thus are more likely to be used by risk managers. In this special session, a number of experts from academia, regulatory authorities and industry from North America, Europe, and Asia working on ecological modeling and ecological risk assessment will present talks and posters on their latest models and their applications to assessments of toxic chemical risks and Ecosystem Services.