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Keywords:

  • Ecology;
  • Emergence;
  • Individual-based models;
  • Standardization;
  • Validation

ABSTRACT

Mechanistic effect models (MEMs) consider the mechanisms of how chemicals affect individuals and ecological systems such as populations and communities. There is an increasing awareness that MEMs have high potential to make risk assessment of chemicals more ecologically relevant than current standard practice. Here we discuss what kinds of MEMs are needed to improve scientific and regulatory aspects of risk assessment. To make valid predictions for a wide range of environmental conditions, MEMs need to include a sufficient amount of emergence, for example, population dynamics emerging from what individual organisms do. We present 1 example where the life cycle of individuals is described using Dynamic Energy Budget theory. The resulting individual-based population model is thus parameterized at the individual level but correctly predicts multiple patterns at the population level. This is the case for both control and treated populations. We conclude that the state-of-the-art in mechanistic effect modeling has reached a level where MEMs are robust and predictive enough to be used in regulatory risk assessment. Mechanistic effect models will thus be used to advance the scientific basis of current standard practice and will, if their development follows Good Modeling Practice, be included in a standardized way in future regulatory risk assessments. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2013;9:e58–e63. © 2013 SETAC