United States legislation requires the US Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that pesticide use does not cause unreasonable adverse effects on the environment, including species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA; hereafter referred to as listed species). Despite a long history of population models used in conservation biology and resource management and a 2013 report from the US National Research Council recommending their use, application of population models for pesticide risk assessments under the ESA has been minimal. The pertinent literature published from 2004 to 2014 was reviewed to explore the availability of population models and their frequency of use in listed species risk assessments. The models were categorized in terms of structure, taxonomic coverage, purpose, inputs and outputs, and whether the models included density dependence, stochasticity, or risk estimates, or were spatially explicit. Despite the widespread availability of models and an extensive literature documenting their use in other management contexts, only 2 of the approximately 400 studies reviewed used population models to assess the risks of pesticides to listed species. This result suggests that there is an untapped potential to adapt existing models for pesticide risk assessments under the ESA, but also that there are some challenges to do so for listed species. Key conclusions from the analysis are summarized, and priorities are recommended for future work to increase the usefulness of population models as tools for pesticide risk assessments. Environ Toxicol Chem 2016;35:1904–1913.
- Ecological risk assessment
- Endangered Species Act
- Life history
- Population viability analysis