Classification of Ecotoxicological Models

Available ecotoxicological models can be classified in many ways. The most useful starting point considers levels of biological organization. Biological systems are organized as a hierarchy of components categorized by their level of organization, from smaller than an individual (e.g., including molecular and cellular structures), to groups of individual organisms comprising a population, to interactions of those populations to form a community, to interactions of communities with their biotic and abiotic environmental at the ecosystem, and finally to landscape levels of organization. Figure 1 shows the hierarchy of ecological systems at and above the level of individual organisms.

Ecotoxicological models can also be classified by whether they address single species or multiple species, as in Figures 2 and 3. Single-species models are further classified according to whether they consider spatial structure of ecological systems explicitly, whether they consider individual organisms or only groups of organisms, whether they incorporate the age/stage structure of

Organism Organism Organism ^

Abiotic environment

Population 1

Population 2

Species 1 metapopulation Species 2 metapopulation

Figure 1 Hierarchy of ecological systems.

populations explicitly, and whether they include density dependence (Figure 2). Multispecies models are further classified according to whether they address abiotic variables as well as biotic entities, whether they consider spatial structure of ecological systems explicitly, and the kind of habitat they include (Figure 3).

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