Soil ecotoxicology: state of the art and future directions

  • van Gestel C
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Developments in soil ecotoxicology started with observations on pesticide effects on soil invertebrates in the 1960s. To support the risk assessment of chemicals, in the 1980s and 1990s development of toxicity tests was the main issue, including single species tests and also more realistic test systems like model ecosystems and field tests focusing on structural and functional endpoints. In the mean time, awareness grew about issues like bioavailability and routes of exposure, while biochemical endpoints (biomarkers) were proposed as sensitive and potential early-warning tools. In recent years, interactions between different chemicals (mixture toxicity) and between chemical and other stressors attracted scientific interest. With the development of molecular biology, omics tools are gaining increasing interest, while the ecological relevance of exposure and effects is translating into concepts like (chemical) stress ecology, ecological vulnerability and trait-based approaches. This contribution addresses historical developments and focuses on current issues in soil ecotoxicology. It is concluded that soil ecotoxicological risk assessment would benefit from extending the available battery of toxicity tests by including e.g. isopods, by paying more attention to exposure, bioavailability and toxicokinetics, and by developing more insight into the ecology of soil organisms to support better understanding of exposure and long-term consequences of chemical exposure at the individual, population and community level. Ecotoxicogenomics tools may also be helpful in this, but will require considerable further research before they can be applied in the practice of soil ecotoxicological risk assessment.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Toxicity tests
  • aromatic-hydrocarbons
  • avoidance-behavior
  • bioavailability
  • biomarkers
  • conceptual-approach
  • ecological effects
  • enchytraeus-albidus enchytraeidae
  • isopod porcellio-scaber
  • isopods
  • metal sequestration
  • oniscus-asellus
  • organic-chemicals
  • organisms
  • polycyclic
  • risk-assessment
  • soil
  • terrestrial isopods

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  • C A M van Gestel

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