Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

The developing framework of marine ecotoxicology: Pollutants as a variable in marine ecosystems?

January 1, 1996

Marine ecosystems include a subset in which at least some interrelated geochemical, biochemical, physiological, population and community characteristics are changed by pollutants. Moderate contamination is relatively widespread in coastal and estuarine ecosystems, so the subset of ecosystems with at least some processes affected could be relatively large. Pollutant influences have changed and will probably continue to change on time scales of decades. Biological exposures and dose in such ecosystems are species-specific and determined by how the species is exposed to different environmental media and the geochemistry of individual pollutants within those media. Bioaccumulation models offer significant promise for interpreting such exposures. Biological responses to pollutants need to be more directly linked to exposure and dose. At the level of the individual this might be improved by better understanding relationships between tissue concentrations of pollutants and responses to pollutants. Multi-discipline field and laboratory studies combined with advanced understanding of some basic processes have reduced the ambiguities in interpreting a few physiological/organismic responses to pollutants in nature. Recognition of pollutant-induced patterns in population responses could lead to similar advances. A rational framework for ecotoxicology is developing, but its further advance is dependent upon better integration of ecotoxicology with basic marine ecology and biology.

Publication Year 1996
Title The developing framework of marine ecotoxicology: Pollutants as a variable in marine ecosystems?
DOI 10.1016/S0022-0981(96)02679-2
Authors Samuel N. Luoma
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Index ID 70175055
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Toxic Substances Hydrology Program; Pacific Regional Director's Office