Tropical ecotoxicology: Status and needs

Authors

  • Thomas E. Lacher Jr.,

    Corresponding author
    1. Archbold Tropical Research Center, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina 29634–1019, USA
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University. College Station, TX 77843–2258, USA
    • Archbold Tropical Research Center, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina 29634–1019, USA
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  • Michael I. Goldstein

    1. Institute of Wildlife and Environmental Toxicology and Department of Environmental Toxicology, P.O. Box 709, I TIWET Drive, Pendleton, South Carolina 29670, USA
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Abstract

Ecotoxicology has focused almost exclusively on countries and ecosystems in temperate zones. Tropical ecosystems, which combined contain as much as 75% of the global biodiversity, have been neglected. Tropical ecosystems are under increasing threat of development and habitat degradation from population growth and urbanization, agricultural expansion, deforestation, and mining. Some of these activities also lead to the release of toxic substances into the environment. Little research in ecotoxicology has been carried out in tropical environments. Techniques and procedures developed for temperate environments are often applied, even though physical and chemical environmental parameters in the tropics can be very different. Most research has focused on water quality and aquatic toxicology. The regulatory environment also varies among countries. We present a review of the literature on tropical ecotoxicology, with an emphasis on Latin America and the Caribbean. We also address priority areas for immediate research in the tropics. These include large-scale agricultural activities, especially banana, pineapple, and soybean farming, and gold mining with the associated heavy use of mercury. We outline the special issues that must be addressed as the field of tropical ecotoxicology progresses.

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