Mathematics, Department of


Date of this Version



Science of the Total Environment 649 (2019) 949–959.

doi 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.08.344


US government work


We demonstrate how mechanistic modeling can be used to predict whether and how biological responses to chemicals at (sub)organismal levels in model species (i.e., what we typically measure) translate into impacts on ecosystem service delivery (i.e., what we care about). We consider a hypothetical case study of two species of trout, brown trout (Salmo trutta; BT) and greenback cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii stomias; GCT). These hypothetical populations live in a high-altitude river system and are exposed to human-derived estrogen (17α‑ethinyl estradiol, EE2), which is the bioactive estrogen in many contraceptives. We use the individual based model in STREAM to explore how seasonally varying concentrations of EE2 could influence male spawning and sperm quality. Resulting impacts on trout recruitment and the consequences of such for anglers and for the continued viability of populations of GCT (the state fish of Colorado) are explored. in STREAM incorporates seasonally varying river flow and temperature, fishing pressure, the influence of EE2 on species-specific demography, and inter-specific competition. The model facilitates quantitative exploration of the relative importance of endocrine disruption and inter-species competition on trout population dynamics. Simulations predicted constant EE2 loading to have more impacts on GCT than BT. However, increasing removal of BT by anglers can enhance the persistence of GCT and offset some of the negative effects of EE2. We demonstrate how models that quantitatively link impacts of chemicals and other stressors on individual survival, growth, and reproduction to consequences for populations and ecosystem service delivery, can be coupled with ecosystem service valuation. The approach facilitates interpretation of toxicity data in an ecological context and gives beneficiaries of ecosystem services amore explicit role in management decisions. Although challenges remain, this type of approach may be particularly helpful for site-specific risk assessments and those in which trade offs and synergies among ecosystem services need to be considered.