Mathematics, Department of


Date of this Version



2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


N. Galic et al. / Science of the Total Environment 682 (2019) 426–436


Assessing and managing risks of anthropogenic activities to ecological systems is necessary to ensure sustained delivery of ecosystem services for future generations. Ecological models provide a means of quantitatively linking measured risk assessment end points with protection goals, by integrating potential chemical effects with species life history, ecological interactions, environmental drivers and other potential stressors. Here we demonstrate how an ecosystem modeling approach can be used to quantify insecticide-induced impacts on ecosystem services provided by a lake from toxicity data for organism-level endpoints. We used a publicly available aquatic ecosystem model AQUATOX that integrates environmental fate of chemicals and their impacts on food webs in aquatic environments. By simulating a range of exposure patterns,we illustrated how exposure to a hypothetical insecticide could affect aquatic species populations (e.g., recreational fish abundance) and environmental properties (e.g., water clarity) that would in turn affect delivery of ecosystem services. Different results were observed for different species of fish, thus the decision to manage the use of the insecticide for ecosystem services derived by anglers depends upon the favored species of fish. In our hypothetical shallow reservoir, water clarity was mostly driven by changes in foodweb dynamics, specifically the presence of zooplankton. In contrast to the complex response by fishing value,water clarity increasedwith reduced insecticide use,which produced amonotonic increase in value by waders and swimmers. Our study clearly showed the importance of considering nonlinear ecosystem feed backs where the presence of insecticide changed the modeled food-web dynamics in unexpected ways. Our study highlights one of the main advantages of using ecological models for risk assessment, namely the ability to generalize to meaningful levels of organization and to facilitate quantitative comparisons among alternative scenarios and associated trade-offs among them while explicitly accounting for different groups of beneficiaries.