Skip to main content

Behavioural toxicity of organic chemical contaminants in fish: application to ecological risk assessments (ERAs)

Buy Article:

$50.00 plus tax (Refund Policy)


Chemical pollutants rarely attain acutely lethal concentrations in nature; thus the majority of their effects are expected to be sublethal. Estimation of the likelihood of effects from exposures to sublethal concentrations of contaminants in effluent plumes downstream of point sources poses a challenge when conducting ecological risk assessments (ERAs). This is an issue for regulatory agencies worldwide. This paper reviews the importance and availability of information on behavioural toxicity and identifies opportunities for its inclusion in ERAs. One of the major advantages of using data on behavioural effects is that they are more sensitive indicators of potential for impacts on survival in the field than are measures of lethality. Indications from available data for fish suggest that behavioural effects of organic contaminants often occur at concentrations 1 to 2 orders of magnitude lower than those found to elicit mortality. As a result, it is believed that the use of data on behavioural toxicity in ERAs could benefit the assessment process a great deal, allowing for the consideration of more ecologically significant and protective hazard and exposure scenarios.

Les polluants chimiques atteignent rarement des concentrations aiguës létales en nature; on s’attend donc à ce que leurs effets soient sublétaux. L’estimation de la possibilité d’effets dus à une exposition à des concentrations sublétales de contaminants dans les panaches d’effluents en aval d’une source ponctuelle représente un défi important dans les évaluations des risques écologiques (« ERAs »). C’est un problème pour les organismes de règlementation à l’échelle de la planète. Ce travail passe en revue l’importance et la disponibilité de l’information sur la toxicité comportementale et signale les occasions de l’inclure dans les ERAs. Un des avantages majeurs de l’utilisation des données sur les effets comportementaux est qu’il s’agit d’indicateurs plus sensibles des impacts potentiels sur la survie en nature que ne le sont les mesures de létalité. Les données disponibles sur les poissons laissent croire que les effets comportementaux des contaminants organiques se manifestent souvent à des concentrations 10 à 100 fois moins élevées que celles qui causent de la mortalité. En conséquence, l’utilisation de données de toxicité comportementale dans les ERAs devrait vraisemblablement améliorer considérablement le processus d’évaluation, permettant la prise en considération de scénarios de risque et d’exposition plus significatifs et plus protecteurs au niveau écologique.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-07-01

More about this publication?
  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
  • Information for Authors
  • Submit a Paper
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • Terms & Conditions
  • Sample Issue
  • Reprints & Permissions
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites
  • Access Key
  • Free ContentFree content
  • Partial Free ContentPartial Free content
  • New ContentNew content
  • Open Access ContentOpen access content
  • Partial Open Access ContentPartial Open access content
  • Subscribed ContentSubscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed ContentPartial Subscribed content
  • Free Trial ContentFree trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more