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An approach for developing simple generic models for ecological risk assessments of fish populations



It has been argued that current approaches for ecological risk assessment (ERA) do not provide value relevance for risk managers and that the uncertainty in the predictions is large. One important reason for this is that current approaches are based on individual-level endpoints, but the environmental protection goals are defined on the population level. Population models may be useful tools to link the individual to the population and thus increase value relevance and reduce uncertainty. However, this requires that simple models and guidance on how to use them are made available for risk assessors. In the present study, an approach for developing simple generic models for the ERA of fish populations is presented. Fish have high ecological and economic value and are frequently used in ERA. It is, therefore, highly desirable to develop better methods for ERA of fish populations. The models were based on five types of life histories, and they were set up to be useful in a number of different management scenarios based on different environmental protection goals. A decision framework was set up for three levels of models (continuous, time limited, and varying exposure) and three levels of environmental protection. Data from previously published studies were tested for two of the environmental protection levels. The models provided maximum acceptable concentrations (MAC) that fell between the MACs of traditional ERA based on acute or chronic data, respectively. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2011;30:2372–2383. © 2011 SETAC