Terrestrial population models for ecological risk assessment: A state-of-the-art review

Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry



Few attempts have been made to formulate models for predicting impacts of xenobiotic chemicals on wildlife populations. However, considerable effort has been invested in wildlife optimal exploitation models. Because death from intoxication has a similar effect on population dynamics as death by harvesting, these management models are applicable to ecological risk assessment. An underlying Leslie-matrix bookkeeping formulation is widely applicable to vertebrate wildlife populations. Unfortunately, however, the various submodels that track birth, death, and dispersal rates as functions of the physical, chemical, and biotic environment are by their nature almost inevitably highly species- and locale-specific. Short-term prediction of one-time chemical applications requires only information on mortality before and after contamination. In such cases a simple matrix formulation may be adequate for risk assessment. But generally, risk must be projected over periods of a generation or more. This precludes generic protocols for risk assessment and also the ready and inexpensive predictions of a chemical's influence on a given population. When designing and applying models for ecological risk assessment at the population level, the endpoints (output) of concern must be carefully and rigorously defined. The most easily accessible and appropriate endpoints are (1) pseudoextinction (the frequency or probability of a population falling below a prespecified density), and (2) temporal mean population density. Spatial and temporal extent of predicted changes must be clearly specified a priori to avoid apparent contradictions and confusion.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Terrestrial population models for ecological risk assessment: A state-of-the-art review
Series title Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
DOI 10.1002/etc.5620080912
Volume 8
Issue 9
Year Published 1989
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Western Fisheries Research Center
Description 12
First page 831
Last page 842
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