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A new method for ranking mode-specific sensitivity of freshwater arthropods to insecticides and its relationship to biological traits

Authors

  • Mascha N. Rubach,

    Corresponding author
    1. Alterra, Wageningen University and Research Centre, P.O. Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
    2. Department of Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
    • Alterra, Wageningen University and Research Centre, P.O. Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands.
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  • Donald J. Baird,

    1. Environment Canada, Canadian Rivers Institute, Department of Biology, University of New Brunswick, P.O. Box 45111, Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 6E1
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  • Paul J. Van den Brink

    1. Alterra, Wageningen University and Research Centre, P.O. Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
    2. Department of Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
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Abstract

The problem of how to deal with species sensitivity differences to toxic substances has been addressed successfully with the species sensitivity distribution (SSD), yet this has not increased understanding about the underlying mechanisms of sensitivity. Other researchers have identified the mode of action of chemicals and also biological traits of species as determinants for sensitivity, yet no systematic approach combines these factors. To achieve this, first existing data on organophosphate, carbamate, and pyrethroid toxicity and mode of action and also species trait information were mined. Second, we linked taxon sensitivity to their traits at the family level to generate empirical and mechanistic hypotheses about sensitivity–trait relationships. In this way, a mode-specific sensitivity (MSS) ranking method was developed, and tested at the taxonomic level of family and genus. The application of several quality criteria indicated overall confidence in rankings, but confidence in exact taxon rank was less certain, due to data insufficiency for certain groups. The MSS rankings were found to be applicable for trait-based approaches and were successfully linked to existing trait data to identify traits with predictive potential. Although this empirical analysis cannot test causality relationships between traits and sensitivity, testable hypotheses were generated, for further experimental investigation. Single traits as well as combinations of traits can be used to predict laboratory sensitivity to the substances tested, although associations were not as strong as in previous studies. We conclude that existing trait data are not suitable for every trait-based research question and that important traits remain to be identified and quantified in relation to the processes of toxicity, i.e., the toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2010;29:476–487. © 2009 SETAC

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