Pop-GUIDE: Population Modeling Guidance, Use, Interpretation, and Development for Ecological Risk Assessment

Sandy Raimondo, Amelie Schmolke, Nathan Pollesch, Chiara Accolla, Nika Galic, Adrian P Moore, Maxime Vaugeois, Pamela Rueda-Cediel, Andrew Kanarek, Jill Awkerman, Valery Forbes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The assimilation of population models into ecological risk assessment (ERA) has been hindered by their range of complexity, uncertainty, resource investment, and data availability. Likewise, ensuring that the models address risk assessment objectives has been challenging. Recent research efforts have begun to tackle these challenges by creating an integrated modeling framework and decision guide to aid the development of population models with respect to ERA objectives and data availability. In the framework, the trade-offs associated with the generality, realism, and precision of an assessment are used to guide the development of a population model commensurate with the protection goal. The decision guide provides risk assessors with a stepwise process to assist them in developing a conceptual model that is appropriate for the assessment objective and available data. We have merged the decision guide and modeling framework into a comprehensive approach, Population modeling Guidance, Use, Interpretation, and Development for Ecological risk assessment (Pop-GUIDE), for the development of population models for ERA that is applicable across regulatory statutes and assessment objectives. In Phase 1 of Pop-GUIDE, assessors are guided through the trade-offs of ERA generality, realism, and precision, which are translated into model objectives. In Phase 2, available data are assimilated and characterized as general, realistic, and/or precise. Phase 3 provides a series of dichotomous questions to guide development of a conceptual model that matches the complexity and uncertainty appropriate for the assessment that is in concordance with the available data. This phase guides model developers and users to ensure consistency and transparency of the modeling process. We introduce Pop-GUIDE as the most comprehensive guidance for population model development provided to date and demonstrate its use through case studies using fish as an example taxon and the US Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and Endangered Species Act as example regulatory statutes. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2021;00:1–18.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalIntegrated environmental assessment and management
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank David Miller for critical review of a draft of this manuscript. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of their official institutions. This document has been reviewed by the USEPA Office of Research and Development and approved for publication. This research was funded by the USEPA. The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


  • Complexity
  • Ecological risk assessment
  • Guidance
  • Population modeling
  • Uncertainty

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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