In this two-part podcast, Drs. Paul van den Brink and Donald Baird define and discuss traits-based ecological risk assessment (TERA) and contrast its advantages over traditional taxonomy-based ERA. In Part 1, they define TERA and it’s advantages over traditional taxonomy-based ERA and discuss how to implement TERA in a statutory framework. In Part 2, the conversation focuses on specific types of data needed for TERA and its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
In 2009, van den Brink and Baird organized and chaired a Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) workshop focused on developing a traits-based approach to ecological risk assessment. A group of 30 scientists from North America, Europe, and Australia, composed of experts from different fields of biomonitoring and ERA, gathered in Canada with the goal of evaluating Traits-Based Ecological Risk Assessment (TERA). Scientists evaluated advantages and disadvantages of traits-based assessment for different fields of science, and specifically how to overcome the disadvantages for each area. Workshop participants strived to identify problems and obstacles associated with standardizing potential trait descriptions, representing the first step towards developing a web-based, collaborative knowledge platform of trait information.
About the Guests
Paul J. van den Brink is a professor of chemical stress ecology and works at the research institute Alterra and the Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management Group of Wageningen University, both part of the Wageningen University and Research center. His research focuses on the scientific underpinning of higher-tier risk assessment procedures for contaminants. Research projects include the development of effect models (e.g., food web, meta-population and expert base models), Trait based Ecological Risk Assessment (TERA), validation of risk assessment procedures (e.g., Uniform Principles and Species Sensitivity Distribution), and human and ecological risk assessment of pesticide use in developing countries. Paul is also President of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) and past-president of SETAC Europe.
Dr. Donald Baird is a Senior Research Scientist working in the Water Science and Technology Directorate of Environment Canada, and he is co-located at the Canadian Rivers Institute at the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton. His principal research focus is on the development of diagnostic approaches to assess impacts of multiple stressors on freshwater ecosystems. Current research focuses on the development of traits-based ecological risk assessment approaches and the application of high-throughput genomics in biodiversity discovery and ecosystem biomonitoring. Donald has previously organized and co-chaired 3 SETAC Pellston workshops that focused on ecological aspects of ecotoxicology.
Articles Referenced in this Podcast
van den Brink et al. 2011, Traits-based ecological risk assessment (TERA): Realizing the potential of ecoinformatics approaches in ecotoxicology, IEAM 7#2:169–171.
Rubach et al. 2011, Framework for traits-based assessment in ecotoxicology, IEAM 7#2:172–186.
Culp et al. 2011, Incorporating traits in aquatic biomonitoring to enhance causal diagnosis and prediction, IEAM 7#2:187–197.
van den Brink et al. 2011, Traits-based approaches in bioassessment and ecological risk assessment: Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, IEAM 7#2:198–208.
Baird et al. 2011, Toward a knowledge infrastructure for traits-based ecological risk assessment, IEAM 7#2:209–215.