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Quantitative Adverse Outcome Pathways and their Utility to Ecological Risk Assessments of Endangered Species
Doering, J. Quantitative Adverse Outcome Pathways and their Utility to Ecological Risk Assessments of Endangered Species. SETAC North America, Minneapolis, MN, November 12 - 16, 2017.
Preventing impacts of exposure to chemicals to endangered species is difficult because endangered species are not easily studied for practical and ethical reasons. Therefore, this presentation describes the utility of investigating impacts of chemicals to endangered species through the use of 21st century tools known as quantitative adverse outcome pathways. These tools can be used to assess impacts to endangered populations of American eels and lake sturgeon in the United States without the need for harming any animals. This work supports aims of CSS project 17.01 towards guiding more objective ecological risk assessments, including assessments of endangered species.
Ecological risk assessments of endangered species are often hampered by a lack of knowledge about the sensitivity of endangered species to chemicals of concern. However, traditional in vivo toxicity testing of endangered species is often not possible for practical and ethical reasons. Therefore, this presentation describes the utility of using quantitative adverse outcome pathways (qAOPs) for application to the ecological risk assessment of endangered species. qAOPs are quantitative, biologically-based models which describe key event relationships that link a molecular initiating event to an adverse outcome. A qAOP was recently developed across 8 species of fish describing the indirect relationship between activation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor 2 (AhR2) by dioxin-like compounds (DLCs) and early life stage mortality. This qAOP can predict full-dose response curves for any DLC for any species of fish for application to ecological risk assessment. Critically, predictions from this qAOP can be generated from genetic information acquired from non-lethal samples, including scales, blood, or biopsied tissue, making this qAOP applicable to assessments of even critically endangered species. This qAOP is being applied to assessments of recruitment failure as a result of early life stage mortality from exposure to maternally transferred DLCs for two ecological risk assessments of endangered species: 1) American eels (Anguilla rostrata) in the Great Lakes area, and 2) lake sturgeon (Acipenser fluvescens) in the St. Louis River, MN, USA. Development and application of species-independent, quantitative, biologically-based models that require only non-lethal samples, such as qAOPs, could be essential in guiding more objective ecological risk assessments of endangered species.