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Keywords:

  • Populations;
  • Ecological recovery;
  • Agrochemicals;
  • Risk assessment

Abstract

Ecological effects of modern agrochemicals are typically limited to brief episodes of increased mortality or reduced growth that are qualitatively similar to natural disturbance regimes. The long-term ecological consequences of agrochemical exposures depend on the intensity and frequency of the exposures relative to the rates of recovery of the exposed populations. This paper explores the feasibility of using readily available life history information to quantify recovery rates of aquatic populations. A simple modeling framework based on the logistic population growth model is used to compare population recovery rates for different types of organisms and to evaluate the influence of life history, initial percent reduction, disturbance frequency, and immigration on the time required for populations to recover from simulated agrochemical exposures. Recovery models are developed for aquatic biota ranging in size and longevity from unicellular algae to fish and turtles. Population growth rates and recovery times derived from life history data are consistent with measured recovery times reported in mesocosm and enclosure experiments, thus supporting the use of the models for quantifying population recovery rates for ecological risk assessment.