Ecological models are important tools for use in characterizing ecological risks of toxic chemicals because they support quantitative determinations of the ecological significance of risks expressed only in terms of organism-level endpoints. True ecotoxicological models combine steady-state or dynamic modeling of ecological systems with exposure-response models to predict the effects of toxic chemicals on endpoints for populations, ecosystems, orland-scapes. They can be applied to translate the organism-level endpoints of survival, growth, and various reproductive measures into estimates of risk or population decline, risk of extinction, risk of habitat fragmentation, or other metrics. Data are often limited on vital rates and dose-response functions needed for ecological modeling, but reasonable estimates of model parameters can often be made to meet the objectives of an ecological risk assessment. Often, a comparative assessment of risk (e.g., relative to baseline or reference) is of primary interest. Ecotoxicological models and user-friendly software for them are now widely available. Population, ecosystem, and landscape models that incorporate toxicological data (e.g., dose-response functions) are being used increasingly in environmental management of toxic chemical problems. Such models can be applied in the context of ecological risk assessments, design and evaluation of remedial actions, habitat restoration projects, and monitoring programs.
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