, 20:1932 | Cite as

Outdoor Terrestrial Model Ecosystems are suitable to detect pesticide effects on soil fauna: design and method development

  • B. Scholz-StarkeEmail author
  • A. Nikolakis
  • T. Leicher
  • C. Lechelt-Kunze
  • F. Heimbach
  • B. Theißen
  • A. Toschki
  • H. T. Ratte
  • A. Schäffer
  • M. Roß-Nickoll


Terrestrial Model Ecosystems (TME) were developed as one higher-tier option to detect and assess effects of pesticides on soil communities in a 1 year study using lindane (gamma-HCH) as a persistent and toxic reference pesticide. TME contained intact soil cores (diameter 300 mm, height 400 mm) including indigenous soil communities of undisturbed grassland. Forty units were placed outdoors between spring 2005 and 2006. The TME experiment was designed to provide data that fulfill the requirements of the revised European regulation on plant protection products (regulation 1107/2009/EEC replacing guideline 91/414/EC) with a focus on structural endpoints such as soil organisms and their community structure in case higher-tier evaluation is triggered. The key objective was to evaluate the dynamics and stability of species-diverse microarthropod communities of undisturbed grassland over at least 1 year after application. In grassland soils, less selection pressure towards insensitive species compared to arable land was presumed. Sufficient numbers of organisms and numerous TME replicates ensured that a statistical evaluation could be performed to estimate the sensitivity of the organisms upon application of lindane applied at high rates of 7.5 and 75 kg ai/ha. The application rates resulted in nominal concentrations of 10 and 100 mg ai/kg dry soil referred to the top 5 cm soil layer of 10 TME each; 20 untreated TME served as controls and were used to study the natural dynamics and the variability of populations under field conditions. Results showed that the grassland from which the soil cores were sampled contained communities of soil organisms marked by typical diversity of improved grassland. Lindane applied at excessive rates caused clear dose-related and long-lasting effects on the communities of microarthropods. On the contrary, lumbricids, the total feeding activity (bait lamina) and the growth of plant biomass were not affected up to 1 year after application. Based on the results of this study using a toxic reference insecticide, the methodology seems to be suitable for use in the regulatory context of the assessment of pesticides once protection goals, data requirements and the conceptual framework are defined.


Terrestrial Model Ecosystems (TME) Soil communities Lindane Environmental risk assessment 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Scholz-Starke
    • 1
    Email author
  • A. Nikolakis
    • 2
  • T. Leicher
    • 2
  • C. Lechelt-Kunze
    • 2
  • F. Heimbach
    • 3
  • B. Theißen
    • 1
  • A. Toschki
    • 4
  • H. T. Ratte
    • 1
  • A. Schäffer
    • 1
  • M. Roß-Nickoll
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Environmental Research (BioV)RWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany
  2. 2.Bayer CropScience AGMonheim am RheinGermany
  3. 3.RIFCON GmbHLeichlingenGermany
  4. 4.Forschungsinstitut für Ökosystemanalyse und -bewertung e.V. (gaiac)AachenGermany

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