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WP9 Filling Critical Data Gaps in Ecological Risk Assessment
() Inherent and contrived constraints that limit the effectiveness of ecological risk assessments.
Kapustka, L1, 1 ecological planning and toxicology, inc., Corvallis, OR, USA
ABSTRACT- Terrestrial systems arguably are more complex than aquatic systems. This occurs in greater swings in controlling physical characteristics over time (e.g., temperature) and spatial heterogeneity. Historically, less attention has been devoted to developing toxicity profiles and exposure estimates to match the biological diversity of terrestrial plants and wildlife, than to that for aquatic systems. A key factor accounting for this stems from the reality of property rights that confer ownership of land, whereas air and water are part of the commons. Four major limitations continue to plague ecological risk assessments: 1) the disproportionate emphasis on chemical agents relative to physical and biological agents; 2) the practice of using point-estimates for toxicity (or other response) profiles, 3) too much reliance on calculated values (e.g., bioaccumulation) instead of situation-specific empirical data, and 4) inadequate use of higher-level ecological considerations (e.g., population-level assessments, dynamic system functions, landscape parameters-behavioral interactions). Although spatial and temporal variability of terrestrial systems can be daunting, the bigger problem seems to be our general unwillingness to employ better designs and better science as the foundation of terrestrial risk assessments.
Key words: terrestrial, ecological risk assessment, landscape ecology
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