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Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management

In situ-based effects measures: Determining the ecological relevance of measured responses

Authors

  • Donald J Baird,

    Corresponding author
    1. National Water Research Institute (Environment Canada) at Canadian Rivers Institute, Department of Biology, University of New Brunswick, PO Box 45111, Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 6E1, Canada
    • National Water Research Institute (Environment Canada) at Canadian Rivers Institute, Department of Biology, University of New Brunswick, PO Box 45111, Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 6E1, Canada
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  • Steven S Brown,

    1. Rohm and Haas Chemicals LLC, 727 Norristown Road, Building 5, PO Box 904, Spring House, Pennsylvania 19477–0904, USA
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  • Laurent Lagadic,

    1. Laboratoire d'Écotoxicologie Aquatique, INRA, Campus de Beaulieu, F-35042 Rennes Cedex, France
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  • Matthias Liess,

    1. UFZ Centre for Environmental Research, Department of Chemical Ecotoxicology Permoserstrasse 15, D-04318 Leipzig, Germany
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  • Lorraine Maltby,

    1. Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, United Kingdom
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  • Matilde Moreira-Santos,

    1. Instituto do Ambiente e Vida, Departamento de Zoologia, Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal
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  • Ralf Schulz,

    1. Institute for Environmental Sciences, University Koblenz-Landau, Im Fort 7, D-76829, Landau, Germany
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  • Geoffrey I Scott

    1. Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Department of Commerce, 219 Fort Johnson Road, Charleston, South Carolina 29412
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Abstract

The aim of this review is to examine how the choice of test species and study design employed in the use of in situ approaches in ecological risk assessment can maximize the ecological relevance of data. We provide a framework to define and assess ecological relevance that permits study designs to remain focused on the ecological question being addressed. This framework makes explicit the linkages between effects at lower levels of biological organization and higher-order ecological effects at the population, community, and ecosystem levels. The usefulness of this framework is illustrated by reference to specific examples from aquatic ecotoxicology. The use of models as both interpretive and predictive tools is discussed, with suggestions of appropriate methods for different protection goals.

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