Survival data analyses in ecotoxicology: critical effect concentrations, methods and models. What should we use?
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In ecotoxicology, critical effect concentrations are the most common indicators to quantitatively assess risks for species exposed to contaminants. Three types of critical effect concentrations are classically used: lowest/ no observed effect concentration (LOEC/NOEC), LC x (x% lethal concentration) and NEC (no effect concentration). In this article, for each of these three types of critical effect concentration, we compared methods or models used for their estimation and proposed one as the most appropriate. We then compared these critical effect concentrations to each other. For that, we used nine survival data sets corresponding to D. magna exposition to nine different contaminants, for which the time-course of the response was monitored. Our results showed that: (i) LOEC/NOEC values at day 21 were method-dependent, and that the Cochran–Armitage test with a step-down procedure appeared to be the most protective for the environment; (ii) all tested concentration–response models we compared gave close values of LC50 at day 21, nevertheless the Weibull model had the lowest global mean deviance; (iii) a simple threshold NEC-model both concentration and time dependent more completely described whole data (i.e. all timepoints) and enabled a precise estimation of the NEC. We then compared the three critical effect concentrations and argued that the use of the NEC might be a good option for environmental risk assessment.
KeywordsNOEC/LCx/NEC Hypothesis testing Concentration–response curves Bayesian inference Risk assessment
We would like to thank Martyn Plummer for developing the useful JAGS and r-jags tools and David Fox for his precious comments. We also would like to thank the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research for providing financial support.
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