Constructing Time-Resolved Species Sensitivity Distributions Using a Hierarchical Toxico-Dynamic Model

G Kon Kam King, M Delignette-Muller, Ben KEFFORD, Christophe Piscart, S Charles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Classical species sensitivity distribution (SSD) is used to assess the threat to ecological communities posed by a contaminant and derive a safe concentration. It suffers from several well-documented weaknesses regarding its ecological realism and statistical soundness. Criticism includes that SSD does not take time-dependence of the data into account, that safe concentrations obtained from SSD might not be entirely protective of the target communities, and that there are issues of statistical representativity and of uncertainty propagation from the experimental data. We present a hierarchical toxico-dynamic (TD) model to simultaneously address these weaknesses: TD models incorporate time-dependence and allow improvement of the ecological relevance of safe concentrations, while the hierarchical approach affords appropriate propagation of uncertainty from the original data. We develop this model on a published data set containing the salinity tolerance over 72 h of 217 macroinvertebrate taxa, obtained through rapid toxicity testing (RTT). The shrinkage properties of the hierarchical model prove particularly adequate for modeling inhomogeneous RTT data. Taking into account the large variability in the species response, the model fits the whole data set well. Moreover, the model predicts a time-independent safe concentration below that obtained with classical SSD at 72 h, demonstrating under-protectiveness of the classical approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12465-12473
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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