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Sublethal effect modelling for environmental risk assessment of chemicals: Problem definition, model variants, application and challenges

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Publication details

JournalScience of the Total Environment
DateAccepted/In press - 15 Jul 2020
DateE-pub ahead of print - 21 Jul 2020
DatePublished (current) - 25 Nov 2020
Number of pages16
Early online date21/07/20
Original languageEnglish


Bioenergetic models, and specifically dynamic energy budget (DEB) theory, are gathering a great deal of interest as a tool to predict the effects of realistically variable exposure to toxicants over time on an individual animal. Here we use aquatic ecological risk assessment (ERA) as the context for a review of the different model variants within DEB and the closely related DEBkiss theory (incl. reserves, ageing, size & maturity, starvation). We propose a coherent and unifying naming scheme for all current major DEB variants, explore the implications of each model's underlying assumptions in terms of its capability and complexity and analyse differences between the models (endpoints, mathematical differences, physiological modes of action). The results imply a hierarchy of model complexity which could be used to guide the implementation of simplified model variants. We provide a decision tree to support matching the simplest suitable model to a given research or regulatory question. We detail which new insights can be gained by using DEB in toxicokinetic-toxicodynamic modelling, both generally and for the specific example of ERA, and highlight open questions. Specifically, we outline a moving time window approach to assess time-variable exposure concentrations and discuss how to account for cross-generational exposure. Where possible, we suggest valuable topics for experimental and theoretical research.

    Research areas

  • Dynamic energy budget, Environmental risk assessment, Model analysis, Time dependency, Toxicokinetics-Toxicodynamics

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