Principles of Ecotoxicology, Third Edition

By C.H. Walker, R.M. Sibly, S.P. Hopkin, D.B. Peakall

© 2012 – CRC Press

344 pages | 148 B/W Illus.

Comp Exam Copy

About the Book

Presenting a multidisciplinary perspective in a concise format, Principles of Ecotoxicology, Third Edition discusses the fundamental chemical and ecological nature of pollution processes while identifying the major classes of pollutants and their environmental fate. The first edition was originally created to fill the need for a textbook that covered the basic principles of a developing and wide-ranging field and the second edition expanded on that theme. Keeping the focus on principles over practice that has made each incarnation of this textbook so popular, the third edition brings the text up to date and strengthens coverage in areas that have come to the forefront of the field.

The third edition features new material on pollutants that are receiving closer scrutiny, naturally occurring poisons, the history of chemical warfare, population risk assessment, community structure, neonicotinoids, endocrine disruption, and neurotoxicity. A new section on extrapolating from molecular interaction to the consequent population changes highlights the molecules to ecosystem approach and provides the groundwork for discussions on the employment of biomarker strategies in field studies. A major theme of the new material is how the concepts discussed can contribute to improved methods of environmental risk assessment. With updates to every chapter, this text provides essential information for students in easy to use and understandable format.


"Keeping the focus on principles over practice is what has made each incarnation of this book a bestseller. The third edition follows this central theme while bringing the text up to date and strengthening coverage in areas that have come to the forefront of the field. …With updates to every chapter, the text provides essential information in an easy to use format."

-- International Pest Control, Vol. 48, no 2, March/April

"The book is quite extensive in content and length….the authors continue to assist us in understanding the integration of this new knowledge by focusing on the 'principles' of the science."

- Lee R. Shugart in Ecotoxicology, Vol. 16 (483), 2007

"…its aim is to provide a wide-ranging, concise and readable introduction to ecotoxicology that will encourages student to want to learn more about the field…continues to succeed."

-David Spurgeon, The British Toxicology Society Newsletter, Winter 2006

(Praise for Previous Editions)

"The coauthorship is advantageous in that it ensures that all topics are addressed by an expert, but the style is consistent and the content is integrated in a way that texts assembled by editors can not achieve."

-Glenn Suter in SETAC Globe, July-August 2001

"This is, by any standards, an outstanding book, written by a chemist, a mathematician and a zoologist, who have achieved their aim in producing a truly interdisciplinary approach across the full spectrum of topics, from molecules to ecosystems….This book will certainly succeed in serving its primary purpose - providing a textbook for students, which covers the principles of ecotoxicology with a broad approach, cutting across traditional subject boundaries."

-Michael Balls in ATLA, 1996

"To say that ecotoxicology is a multidisciplinary subject is an understatement. This text attempts a comprehensive survey of all of these aspects. It succeeds admirable."

-Dr. J. W. Daniel in Chemistry & Industry, March 5, 2001

"The authors used their outstanding interdisciplinary experience to describe the progression from chemical analysis of environmental pollutants to their effects at the levels of the individual, population, community and, ultimately, ecosystem. Using appropriate examples and relevant case studies, they have made ecotoxicology more accessible to any person who is concerned with environmental changes induced by pollution"

- Dr. Laurent Lagadic in Ecotoxicology, Vol. 10 (6), 2001

Table of Contents


Major Classes of Pollutant

Inorganic Ions

Organic Pollutants

Organometallic Compounds

Radioactive isotopes

Gaseous Pollutants


Further Reading

Routes by Which Pollutants Enter Ecosystems

Entry into Surface Waters

Contamination of Land

Discharge into the Atmosphere

Quantification of Release of Pollutants


Further Reading

Long-Range Movements and Global Transport of Pollutants

Factors Determining Movement and Distribution of Pollutants

Transport in Water

Transport in Air

Models for Environmental Distribution of Chemicals


Further Reading

The Fate of Metals and Radioactive Isotopes in Contaminated Ecosystems


Terrestrial Ecosystems

Aquatic Systems


Further Reading

The Fate of Organic Pollutants in Individuals and in Ecosystems

Fate within Individual Organisms

Organic Pollutants in Terrestrial Ecosystems

Organic Pollutants in Aquatic Ecosystems


Further Reading


Toxicity Testing

General Principles

Determination of the Toxicity of Mixtures

Toxicity testing with Terrestrial Organisms

Toxicity testing with Aquatic Organisms

Risk Assessment

Toxicity Testing in the Field

Alternative Methods in Ecotoxicological Testing


Further Reading

Biochemical Effects of Pollutants


Protective Biochemical Responses

Molecular Mechanisms of Toxicity

Examples of Molecular Mechanisms of Toxicity


Further Reading

Physiological Effects of Pollutants


Effects of Pollutants at the Cellular Level

Effects at the Organ Level

Effects at the Whole Organism Level in Animals

Effects on Plants

Energy Costs of Physiological Change


Further Reading

Interactive Effects of Pollutants


Additive Effects

Potentiation of Toxicity

Potentiation Due to Inhibition of Detoxification

Potentiation Due to Increased Activation

The Detection of Potentiation in the Field


Further Reading


Classification of Biomarkers

Specificity of Biomarkers

Relationship of Biomarkers to Adverse Effects

Discussion of Specific Biomarkers

Role of Biomarkers in Environmental Risk Assessment


Further Reading

In situ Biological Monitoring


Community Effects (Type 1 Biomonitoring)

Bioconcentration of Pollutants (Type 2 Biomonitoring)

Effects of Pollutants (Type 3 Biomonitoring)

Genetically Based Resistance to Pollution (Type 4 Biomonitoring)



Further Reading


Changes in Numbers: Population Dynamics

Population Abundance

Population Growth Rate

Population Growth Rate Depends on the Properties of Individual Organisms

Density Dependence

Identifying Which Factors are Densitivity Dependent: K-Value Analysis

Interactions Between Species

Field Studies: Three Case Studies

Modelling the Effects of Skylarks for Risk Assessment Purposes


Further Reading

Evolution of Resistance to Pollution

Chronic Pollution is Environmental Change

The Evolutionary Process in a Constant Environment

The Evolution of Resistance When There is a Mortality-Production Trade-Off

Evolutionary Responses to Environmental Change

Resistance is Often Monogenic

Case Studies


Further Reading

Changes in Communities and Ecosystems


Soil Processes: The Functional Approach

Changes in Composition of Communities: The Structural Approach

Global Processes


Further Reading

Extrapolating From Molecular Interactions to Consequent Effects at the Population Level


The Translation of Toxic Effects Across Organizational Boundaries

Biomarker Strategies

Biomarkers and Environmental Risk Assessment


Further Readings

Biomarkers in Population Studies

DDE-Induced Eggshell Thinning in Raptorial and Fish-Eating Birds

Reproductive Failure of Fish-Eating Birds on the Great Lakes of North America

Reproductive Failure of Molluscs Caused by Tributyl Tin

Forest Spraying in Eastern Canada to Control Spruce Budworm


Further Reading

Appendix: Introduction to population projection matrices




Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Environmental Science
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Environmental / General