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Sci Total Environ. 2007 Oct 1;384(1-3):264-79. Epub 2007 Aug 8.

Mapping ecological risk of agricultural pesticide runoff.

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  • 1Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Department of System Ecotoxicology, Permoserstrasse 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany. carola.schriever@ufz.de


A screening approach for the EU-scale is introduced and validated that predicts pesticide runoff and related ecological risk for aquatic communities in small agricultural streams. The approach is based on the runoff potential (RP) of stream sites, by a spatially explicit calculation based on pesticide use, precipitation, topography, land use and soil characteristics in the near-stream environment. The underlying simplified model complies with the limited availability and resolution of data at larger scales. RP is transformed to ecological risk by means of a runoff-response relationship between RP and invertebrate community composition that results from a large-scale investigation and considers the influence of landscape-mediated recovery pools. Community composition is expressed as abundance of SPEcies At Risk (SPEAR) i.e. species that are potentially affected by pesticides because of physiological sensitivity to organic pollutants and ecological traits. The SPEAR concept was applied because it provides powerful community descriptors that are independent of habitat parameters and support comparison of pesticide effects between different geographical regions. Raster maps for the EU before the 2004 enlargement indicate that ecological risk from pesticide runoff is potentially low for streams in 34% of the grid cells with non-irrigated arable land (mostly northern countries, predicted effects at < or = 20% of the streams per cell). In contrast, ecological risk is very high in 19% of the grid cells (central and southern countries, predicted effects at >90% of the streams per cell). Field investigations showed that the screening approach produced appropriate estimates of ecological risk from pesticide runoff for selected regions in Finland, France and Germany.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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