A framework for predicting impacts on ecosystem services from (sub)organismal responses to chemicals

Valery E Forbes, Chris J. Salice, Bjorn Birnir, Randy J.F. Bruins, Peter Calow, Virginie Ducrot, Nika Galic, Kristina Garber, Bret C. Harvey, Henriette Jager, Andrew Kanarek, Robert Pastorok, Steve F. Railsback, Richard Rebarber, Pernille Thorbek

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Protection of ecosystem services is increasingly emphasized as a risk-assessment goal, but there are wide gaps between current ecological risk-assessment endpoints and potential effects on services provided by ecosystems. The authors present a framework that links common ecotoxicological endpoints to chemical impacts on populations and communities and the ecosystem services that they provide. This framework builds on considerable advances in mechanistic effects models designed to span multiple levels of biological organization and account for various types of biological interactions and feedbacks. For illustration, the authors introduce 2 case studies that employ well-developed and validated mechanistic effects models: the inSTREAM individual-based model for fish populations and the AQUATOX ecosystem model. They also show how dynamic energy budget theory can provide a common currency for interpreting organism-level toxicity. They suggest that a framework based on mechanistic models that predict impacts on ecosystem services resulting from chemical exposure, combined with economic valuation, can provide a useful approach for informing environmental management. The authors highlight the potential benefits of using this framework as well as the challenges that will need to be addressed in future work. Environ Toxicol Chem 2017;36:845–859.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)845-859
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 SETAC


  • Ecological production function
  • Ecological risk assessment
  • Ecosystem service
  • Environmental management
  • Mechanistic effects model


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