Ecological models in support of regulatory risk assessments of pesticides: developing a strategy for the future

Authors

  • Valery E Forbes,

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Integrated Population Ecology, Department of Environmental, Social and Spatial Change, Roskilde University, Roskilde, Denmark
    • Centre for Integrated Population Ecology, Department of Environmental, Social and Spatial Change, Roskilde University, Roskilde, Denmark
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  • Udo Hommen,

    1. Fraunhofer Institut fur Molekularbiologie und Angewandte kologie (IME), Auf dem Aberg 1, Schmallenberg D-57392, Germany
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  • Pernille Thorbek,

    1. Syngenta, Environmental Safety, Jealott's Hill, International Research Centre, Bracknell, Berkshire RG42 6EY, United Kingdom
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  • Fred Heimbach,

    1. Rifcon, Am Wallgraben 1, D-42799 Leichlingen, Germany
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  • Paul J Van den Brink,

    1. Alterra Centre for Water and Climate, and the Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management Group, Wageningen University, PO Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
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  • Jörn Wogram,

    1. Umweltbundesamt/Federal Environment Agency, Department IV 1.3, Plant Protection Products, PO Box 1406, D-06813 Dessau, Germany
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  • Hans-Hermann Thulke,

    1. Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Department of Ecological Modelling, Permoserstrasse 15, D-04318 Leipzig, Germany
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  • Volker Grimm

    1. Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Department of Ecological Modelling, Permoserstrasse 15, D-04318 Leipzig, Germany
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Abstract

This brief communication reports on the main findings of the LEMTOX workshop, held from 9 to 12 September 2007, at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig, Germany. The workshop brought together a diverse group of stakeholders from academia, regulatory authorities, contract research organizations, and industry, representing Europe, the United States, and Asia, to discuss the role of ecological modeling in risk assessments of pesticides, particularly under the European regulatory framework. The following questions were addressed: What are the potential benefits of using ecological models in pesticide registration and risk assessment? What obstacles prevent ecological modeling from being used routinely in regulatory submissions? What actions are needed to overcome the identified obstacles? What recommendations should be made to ensure good modeling practice in this context? The workshop focused exclusively on population models, and discussion was focused on those categories of population models that link effects on individuals (e.g., survival, growth, reproduction, behavior) to effects on population dynamics. The workshop participants concluded that the overall benefits of ecological modeling are that it could bring more ecology into ecological risk assessment, and it could provide an excellent tool for exploring the importance of, and interactions among, ecological complexities. However, there are a number of challenges that need to be overcome before such models will receive wide acceptance for pesticide risk assessment, despite having been used extensively in other contexts (e.g., conservation biology). The need for guidance on Good Modeling Practice (on model development, analysis, interpretation, evaluation, documentation, and communication), as well as the need for case studies that can be used to explore the added value of ecological models for risk assessment, were identified as top priorities. Assessing recovery potential of exposed nontarget species and clarifying the ecological relevance of standard laboratory test results are two areas for which ecological modeling may be able to provide considerable benefits.

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