, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 24–37 | Cite as

Implications of differences between temperate and tropical freshwater ecosystems for the ecological risk assessment of pesticides

  • Michiel A. Daam
  • Paul J. Van den Brink


Despite considerable increased pesticide use over the past decades, little research has been done into their fate and effects in surface waters in tropical regions. In the present review, possible differences in response between temperate and tropical freshwaters to pesticide stress are discussed. Three underlying mechanisms for these differences are distinguished: (1) climate related parameters, (2) ecosystem sensitivity, and (3) agricultural practices. Pesticide dissipation rates and vulnerability of freshwaters appear not to be consistently higher or lower in tropical regions compared to their temperate counterparts. However, differences in fate and effects may occur for individual pesticides and taxa. Furthermore, intensive agricultural practices in tropical countries lead to a higher input of pesticides and spread of contamination over watersheds. Field studies in tropical farms on pesticide fate in the enclosed and surrounding waterways are recommended, which should ultimately lead to the development of surface water scenarios for tropical countries like developed by the Forum for the co-ordination of pesticide fate models and their use for temperate regions. Future tropical effect assessment studies should evaluate whether specific tropical taxa, not represented by the current standard test species in use, are at risk. If so, tropical model ecosystem studies evaluating pesticide concentration ranges need to be conducted to validate whether selected surrogate indigenous test species are representative for local tropical freshwater ecosystems.


Pesticide fate and effects Environmental risk assessment Tropical-temperate comparison Climate Agricultural practices 



The authors are indebted to Theo Brock and Wim Beltman for valuable contributions to an earlier version of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto Superior de AgronomiaTechnical University of LisbonLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Alterra, Wageningen University and Research CentreWageningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality ManagementWageningen University and Research CentreWageningenThe Netherlands

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