Since the emergence of ecology as a serious discipline, debates on the relevance of laboratory studies including toxicology have been prominent. Standardized phytotoxicity tests are often challenged due to the limited range of test species and the narrow range of environmental conditions proscribed in the tests. This paper discusses the uncertainty currently associated with lab-to-field extrapolations and other aspects of standardized tests. Characterization of test parameters is critical as a first step to quantification and, ultimately, reduction of uncertainty. A conceptual context for designing studies to quantify and reduce uncertainty is presented. A step-wise procedure based on Koch's postulates is offered as the best way to bolster linkage of toxicity data to predictions of risk and characterization of posts incidents (forensic ecology).
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