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Environ Sci Technol. 2010 Oct 1;44(19):7711-6. doi: 10.1021/es101630b.

Influence of taxonomic relatedness and chemical mode of action in acute interspecies estimation models for aquatic species.

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  • 1US Environmental Protection Agency, National Health and Environmental Effects Laboratory, Gulf Ecology Division, 1 Sabine Island Dr, Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561, USA.


Ecological risks to aquatic organisms are typically assessed using acute toxicity data for relatively few species and with limited understanding of relative species sensitivity. We developed a comprehensive set of interspecies correlation estimation (ICE) models based on acute toxicity data for aquatic organisms and evaluated three key sources of model uncertainty: taxonomic relatedness, chemical mode of action (MOA), and model parameters. Models are least-squares regressions of acute toxicity of surrogate and predicted species. A total of 780 models were derived from acute values for 77 species of aquatic organisms and over 550 chemicals. Cross-validation of models showed that accurate model prediction was greatest for models with surrogate and predicted taxa within the same family (91% of predictions within 5-fold of measured values). Recursive partitioning provided user guidance for selection of robust models using model mean square error and taxonomic relatedness. Models built with a single MOA were more robust than models built using toxicity values with multiple MOAs, and improve predictions among species pairs with large taxonomic distance (e.g., within phylum). These results indicate that between-species toxicity extrapolation can be improved using MOA-based models for less related taxa pairs and for those specific MOAs.

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