Mechanistic modeling of insecticide risks to breeding birds in North American agroecosystemsReport as inadecuate

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Insecticide usage in the United States is ubiquitous in urban, suburban, and rural environments. There is accumulating evidence that insecticides adversely affect non-target wildlife species, including birds, causing mortality, reproductive impairment, and indirect effects through loss of prey base, and the type and magnitude of such effects differs by chemical class, or mode of action. In evaluating data for an insecticide registration application and for registration review, scientists at the United States Environmental Protection Agency USEPA assess the fate of the insecticide and the risk the insecticide poses to the environment and non-target wildlife. Current USEPA risk assessments for pesticides generally rely on endpoints from laboratory based toxicity studies focused on groups of individuals and do not directly assess population-level endpoints. In this paper, we present a mechanistic model, which allows risk assessors to estimate the effects of insecticide exposure on the survival and seasonal productivity of birds known to forage in agricultural fields during their breeding season. This model relies on individual-based toxicity data and translates effects into endpoints meaningful at the population level i.e., magnitude of mortality and reproductive impairment. The model was created from two existing USEPA avian risk assessment models, the Terrestrial Investigation Model TIM v.3.0 and the Markov Chain Nest Productivity model MCnest. The integrated TIM-MCnest model was used to assess the relative risk of 12 insecticides applied via aerial spray to control corn pests on a suite of 31 avian species known to forage in cornfields in agroecosystems of the Midwest, USA. We found extensive differences in risk to birds among insecticides, with chlorpyrifos and malathion organophosphates generally posing the greatest risk, and bifenthrin and λ-cyhalothrin pyrethroids posing the least risk. Comparative sensitivity analysis across the 31 species showed that ecological trait parameters related to the timing of breeding and reproductive output per nest attempt offered the greatest explanatory power for predicting the magnitude of risk. An important advantage of TIM-MCnest is that it allows risk assessors to rationally combine both acute lethal and chronic reproductive effects into a single unified measure of risk.

Author: Matthew Etterson , Kristina Garber, Edward Odenkirchen



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