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Integrated presentation of ecological risk from multiple stressors

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JournalScientific Reports
DateAccepted/In press - 26 Sep 2016
DatePublished (current) - 26 Oct 2016
Volume6
Number of pages11
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Current environmental risk assessments (ERA) do not account explicitly for ecological factors (e.g. species composition, temperature or food availability) and multiple stressors. Assessing mixtures of chemical and ecological stressors is needed as well as accounting for variability in environmental conditions and uncertainty of data and models. Here we propose a novel probabilistic ERA framework to overcome these limitations, which focusses on visualising assessment outcomes by construct-ing and interpreting prevalence plots as a quantitative prediction of risk. Key components include environmental scenarios that integrate exposure and ecology, and ecological modelling of relevant endpoints to assess the effect of a combination of stressors. Our illustrative results demonstrate the importance of regional differences in environmental conditions and the confounding interactions of stressors. Using this framework and prevalence plots provides a risk-based approach that combines risk assessment and risk management in a meaningful way and presents a truly mechanistic alternative to the threshold approach. Even whilst research continues to improve the underlying models and data, regulators and decision makers can already use the framework and prevalence plots. The integration of multiple stressors, environmental conditions and variability makes ERA more relevant and realistic.

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© 2016, The Authors.

    Research areas

  • Communication and replication, Ecological modelling, Environmental impact, Population Dynamics

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