Cefic-lri Programme | European Chemical Industry Council

ECO10: EPOCH – Evaluation of existing population models for their potential application in ecological risk assessment of chemicals

Principal Investigator

Dr. Paul Van den Brink
P.O. Box 47
6700AA Wageningen
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 317 474338
Fax: +31 317 419000


Dr. Hans Baveco, Alterra, Landscape Centre, Wageningen, The Netherlands
Nika Galic, MSc, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands
Dr. Udo Hommen, Fraunhofer IME, Schmallenberg, Germany
Dr. Christoph Schaefers, Fraunhofer IME, Schmallenberg, Germany


The objective of the project is to provide a review of population models which can be directly used or which might be modified for the ecological risk assessment of chemicals (ERA).

The main focus will be on the aquatic environment (pelagic and sediment), and mainly freshwater, not excluding the terrestrial and marine environment.

The review will focus on models integrating spatio-temporal heterogeneity of exposure and distribution of organisms, their life cycle characteristics to describe acute and chronic effects on populations and their subsequent recovery in space and time. If relevant, secondary poisoning by bio-concentration and -magnification and indirect food-web mediated effects will be taken into account by including models describing ecosystem-level responses (e.g. food-web models) into the review.

The above is greatly needed because current risk assessment schemes used in the EU (e.g. pesticide directive 91/414/EEC, REACH directive 2006/121/EC and biocide directive 98/8/EC, pharmaceuticals 2001/18/EC) focus mainly on the toxicity of the chemical to and bioconcentration in organisms, which may not be sufficient for adequately predicting field responses of populations towards chemical exposure. Species traits that are currently not considered in the risk assessments, like for instance life-cycle characteristics, habitat and food preferences, time of emergence and egg-deposition may greatly determine the exposure of an organism. To counteract this lack of ecological realism in the current risk assessment schemes, assessment factors are used to yield worst-case prediction of population consequences of expected chemical exposure.

Timeline: December 2007 > January 2009

LRI funding: €64,764

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