Ecotoxicology

Ecotoxicology

Ambience: Stream
It used to be that when scientists wanted to see how a pollutant might affect humans, they’d test it in a lab with a mouse or a rat The emerging field of ecotoxicology uses the environment as its laboratory. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Hopkins: What ecotoxicologists tend to be concerned with is how contaminants affect the interactions of organisms.

Bill Hopkins is a wildlife ecotoxicologist.

Hopkins: So we’re interested in how things like birds, amphibians, and reptiles are influenced by environmental pollutants, and we tend to focus on processes like reproduction that are ultimately important for population viability.
What we’re learning is that organisms can accumulate a lot of pollutants in their tissues and then pass those onto their babies. What we’ve done is shown that not only can it affect the reproductive capacity of individual wildlife, but using modeling approaches, we’ve now shown that that can actually affect entire populations of wildlife. We’ve really taken it from studying individuals to the population, which has widespread implications for conserving healthy populations.

Hopkins: We tend to think of human beings being separated from wildlife, in terms of contaminants affecting wildlife but not us, but, of course, that’s not true. By studying how contaminants in the environment influence wildlife populations, we may be able to draw some important inferences about our own fate, in terms of how these contaminants might affect our own reproductive processes, and we’ve learned a lot. A lot of the early work, for example, on PCBs in the Great Lakes and birds that was groundbreaking work that shed a lot of insights and affected major policy decisions, in terms of how we utilize certain substances because they can, in fact, harm wildlife and humans alike.

Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by Virginia Tech, inventing the future through a hands-on approach to education and research.

Ecotoxicology

By studying how contaminants influence wildlife, we may be able to learn how they effect human reproductive processes.
Air Date:04/05/2016
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Transcript:

Ecotoxicology

Ambience: Stream
It used to be that when scientists wanted to see how a pollutant might affect humans, they'd test it in a lab with a mouse or a rat The emerging field of ecotoxicology uses the environment as its laboratory. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Hopkins: What ecotoxicologists tend to be concerned with is how contaminants affect the interactions of organisms.

Bill Hopkins is a wildlife ecotoxicologist.

Hopkins: So we're interested in how things like birds, amphibians, and reptiles are influenced by environmental pollutants, and we tend to focus on processes like reproduction that are ultimately important for population viability.
What we're learning is that organisms can accumulate a lot of pollutants in their tissues and then pass those onto their babies. What we've done is shown that not only can it affect the reproductive capacity of individual wildlife, but using modeling approaches, we've now shown that that can actually affect entire populations of wildlife. We've really taken it from studying individuals to the population, which has widespread implications for conserving healthy populations.

Hopkins: We tend to think of human beings being separated from wildlife, in terms of contaminants affecting wildlife but not us, but, of course, that's not true. By studying how contaminants in the environment influence wildlife populations, we may be able to draw some important inferences about our own fate, in terms of how these contaminants might affect our own reproductive processes, and we've learned a lot. A lot of the early work, for example, on PCBs in the Great Lakes and birds that was groundbreaking work that shed a lot of insights and affected major policy decisions, in terms of how we utilize certain substances because they can, in fact, harm wildlife and humans alike.

Pulse of the Planet is made possible in part by Virginia Tech, inventing the future through a hands-on approach to education and research.