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Pitfalls and uses of lab studies in predicting ecological effects of chemicals in the field - my research career as a backflip artist

Ben Kefford

It has long been argued that single species laboratory tests do not necessary predict the ecological effects of chemicals in the field. By ecological effects is used to mean effects on populations, communities and ecosystems. However ecotoxicologists have continued to use single species laboratory tests. My short research career has involved a number of change in direction - or backflips - in my attitude to these tests and I will illustrate this with examples of the effect of increased salinity on stream invertebrates, insecticides and fungicides on stream invertebrates and herbicides on benthic diatoms. I will discuss how such simple test systems combined with more complicated test systems can potential serve as models to test hypothesises as to how chemical stressors effect ecological systems.