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Wildlife toxicology has made outstanding progress in predicting the impacts of xenobiotic chemicals on mortality, physiological health and, to a lesser degree, fecundity for both animals and plants. It has been less successful, so far, in addressing the impacts of these chemicals on the viability of populations. From the perspective of an ecologist, or an environmentalist concerned with preserving species diversity, the endpoint of concern is clearly population viability. This article suggests a means (Interaction Assessment Analysis, or INTASS) by which lexicological data can be incorporated into an ecological context. The goal is to provide a method whereby effects of xenobiotics can be assessed at the population level and, given input on individual population consequences, to address community-wide ramifications. The INTASS approach involves, 1. Collecting field data on species of concern along with information on microhabitat variables of consequence to that (those) species and microhabitat-scale measures of toxicant concentrations. 2. Fitting the data, based upon an assertion of adaptive dispersion, to a specified model.
The results provide explicit quantitative expressions for the per capita population growth rates of species of interest written as functions of physical and biotic variables as well as toxicant concentrations. Manipulations of these expressions provide the wherewithal to predict consequences of cleanup or other alterations in toxicant levels, or the results of other environmental alterations on the long-term population central tendencies of whole communities.
contaminant, disturbance, food chains, interaction assessment, population, cleanup, biological community, toxicants, pesticides
Research Ecologist, National Fishery Research Center, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Naval Station Puget Sound, Seattle, WA