The environmental risk assessment (ERA) studies aim to understand the structure and functioning of habitats by predicting or monitoring how contaminants affects biological systems. One of the most commonly used methods in ERA is the multi-task approach, which integrates chemical, ecological and ecotoxicological data. This triple approach ensures a wider, more reliable and accurate assessment and, in this sense, ecotoxicological assessment has become an important tool to evaluate environmental risk.
For mobile organisms, the ability to detect contamination and escape should be a response considered in ERA studies as it helps to understand the consequences of the contamination concerning the spatial distribution of the species, especially in heterogeneous contamination scenarios.
The present project proposes a shift in the paradigm of exposure by bringing a new perspective to the question of “How risky are contaminants?” This new paradigm changes the perspective from toxicity at the individual level to the effects on habitat selection. This new focus on the effects of contamination requires a methodological change from the traditional forced system of contamination exposure (mandatory exposure) to a non-forced multi-compartmented exposure system.
This change in the exposure system also supposes a conceptual change, as responses are no longer related to the suffering of the organisms, but instead to the spatial distribution of the species. This conceptual advance integrates new concepts like: spatial avoidance, preference, recolonization, habitat connectivity and isolation of populations in ecotoxicological studies. Therefore, the risk linked to contamination can exist even if no toxic effect is observed in individuals.
At last, but not least, MultiCecotox project is going to provide tools to study how the repellency of contaminants can interfere on the ecological vulnerability of aquatic ecosystems.
Instituto de Ciencias Marinas de Andalucía (ICMAN-CSIC)
Details of the project
Period of execution
Non forced multi‐compartment exposure system: Complementary ecotoxicological approach for assessing environmental disturbance