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Endocrine disruption in aquatic systems: up-scaling research to address ecological consequences

Windsor, Fredric M. ORCID:, Ormerod, Stephen James ORCID: and Tyler, Charles R. 2018. Endocrine disruption in aquatic systems: up-scaling research to address ecological consequences. Biological Reviews 93 (1) , pp. 626-641. 10.1111/brv.12360

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Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can alter biological function in organisms at environmentally relevant concentrations and are a significant threat to aquatic biodiversity, but there is little understanding of exposure consequences for populations, communities and ecosystems. The pervasive nature of EDCs within aquatic environments and their multiple sub-lethal effects make assessments of their impact especially important but also highly challenging. Herein, we review the data on EDC effects in aquatic systems focusing on studies assessing populations and ecosystems, and including how biotic and abiotic processes may affect, and be affected by, responses to EDCs. Recent research indicates a significant influence of behavioural responses (e.g. enhancing feeding rates), transgenerational effects and trophic cascades in the ecological consequences of EDC exposure. In addition, interactions between EDCs and other chemical, physical and biological factors generate uncertainty in our understanding of the ecological effects of EDCs within aquatic ecosystems. We illustrate how effect thresholds for EDCs generated from individual-based experimental bioassays of the types commonly applied using chemical test guidelines [e.g. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)] may not necessarily reflect the hazards associated with endocrine disruption. We argue that improved risk assessment for EDCs in aquatic ecosystems urgently requires more ecologically oriented research as well as field-based assessments at population-, community- and food-web levels.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Water Research Institute (WATER)
Publisher: Cambridge Philosophical Society
ISSN: 1464-7931
Funders: Natural Environment Research Council
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 August 2017
Date of Acceptance: 12 July 2017
Last Modified: 13 Nov 2023 06:53

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