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Developing methods to assess and predict the population level effects of environmental contaminants



The field of ecological toxicity seems largely to have drifted away from what its title implies—assessing and predicting the ecological consequences of environmental contaminants—moving instead toward an emphasis on individual effects and physiologic case studies. This paper elucidates how a relatively new ecological methodology, interaction assessment (INTASS), could be useful in addressing the field's initial goals. Specifically, INTASS is a model platform and methodology, applicable across a broad array of taxa and habitat types, that can be used to construct population dynamics models from field data. Information on environmental contaminants and multiple stressors can be incorporated into these models in a form that bypasses the problems inherent in assessing uptake, chemical interactions in the environment, and synergistic effects in the organism. INTASS can, therefore, be used to evaluate the effects of contaminants and other stressors at the population level and to predict how changes in stressor levels or composition of contaminant mixtures, as well as various mitigation measures, might affect population dynamics.

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