Biomarkers—biological endpoints long used in medical screening and disease detection—are finding new relevance in the environmental science community. Toxicologists have used biomarkers in certain aquatic contaminant assessments; however, these endpoints have barely been tapped as a valuable resource for informing ecological risk assessments and integrated monitoring. Sharon Hook, author of a critical review in the July 2014 issue of IEAM, talks to us about advantages and caveats for using biomarkers in environmental assessments.
Contaminated sediment—and how to manage them—present an ongoing problem for scientists worldwide. Management and remediation is expensive and time-consuming, often involving millions of dollars over many years. An easier solution may be coming however. The April 2014 issue of IEAM contains a special series on passive sampling methods for contaminated sediment, and Marc Greenberg provides all the details.
The wildlife risk assessment that could: overcoming sparse dose-response data. Risk assessments for wildlife species are plagued by a lack of dose-response data tailored for those wildlife species. Although data may exist for different endpoints in the same or related animal taxa, such data remains difficult to evaluate and incorporate. Ryan Hill and colleagues offer solutions to tackling this problem in their critical review appearing in the January 2014 issue of IEAM. Hill et al. prescribe tips for compiling sparse data to make it relevant, demonstrate graphical evaluations of sparse data, and discuss modeling options for simple vs. complex data sets.
We talk turkey with Matthew Etterson about pesticides and bird reproduction. Etterson and colleague Rick Bennett are co-authors of two companion articles in the October 2013 issue of IEAM that present an innovative model for predicting effects of pesticides on bird reproduction. The model, MCnest can identify species-specific risks by incorporating key life history traits and timing of pesticide application. This approach goes beyond the confines of the traditional avian reproduction test by quantifying the magnitude of a pesticide’s effect on bird reproduction throughout a breeding season.
Death by a thousand cuts—the importance of cumulative effects on watersheds.
Environment damage often results from the collective effects of multiple stressors, be they chemical, biotic, or anthropogenic. But how to capture them all for an environmental impact assessment? Enter cumulative effects assessment (CEA). Monique Dubé discusses how she and colleagues developed and applied a framework for watershed CEA in several Canadian watersheds. Going beyond traditional effects- and stressor-based approaches, the watershed CEA incorporates both the existing condition of a watershed and predictions of its future condition to better inform planning and management efforts. Access the special series “Watershed Cumulative Effects Assessment” in the July 2013 issue of IEAM.
Did you know that scientists practice philosophy in their everyday research? Just as IEAM bridges the gap between scientific research and the application of science in environmental problem-solving, pragmatism bridges scientific theory and practice. In this episode, we hear from Glenn Suter about pragmatism—a philosophy that underlies the scientific approach. He and Susan Cormier are the authors of a commentary entitled “Pragmatism: A practical philosophy for environmental scientists.” Access their article in the April 2013 issue of IEAM.
The environmental community is abuzz with the concept of “ecosystem services.” But what does it really mean? And does this new way of thinking change how scientists approach environmental management? In this episode, Valery Forbes and Peter Calow provide an informal overview of how regulatory agencies can better incorporate the ecosystem services concept into ecological risk assessments (ERAs). Although agencies in Europe and the US have begun to integrate ecosystem services into ERAs, Forbes and Calow point out major challenges that must be overcome in order to substantially improve current ERA processes. Their article “Use of the ecosystem services concept in ecological risk assessment of chemicals” is part of the special series “Ecosystem Services: From Policy to Practice.” Access the series in the April 2013 issue of IEAM.