Exposure of aquatic nontarget organisms to pesticides almost always occurs as pulses or fluctuating concentrations. Extrapolation from laboratory to field thus depends on an understanding and ability to simulate effects resulting from these types of exposure. This paper reviews models that may be used to predict effects on aquatic organisms resulting from time-varying exposure to pesticides. We evaluate and compare the theoretical basis of these models and their applicability to the simulation of effects from fluctuating exposures. The many different models rest on only a few basic concepts with differing degrees of mechanistic character. Building on this critical review, we select the most appropriate models and propose modifications. Two process-based models, the threshold hazard model and the modified damage assessment model, represent the optimum descriptions that are available at present. They could facilitate a better understanding of the ecotoxicity of different compound and species combinations and even mixtures of noninteracting compounds. The possibility to model lethal and sublethal effects allows applications in risk assessment, standard setting, and ecological modeling.
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