Special sessions

During the Annual Meeting, four Special Sessions will be organised. Special Sessions highlight ‘hot topics’ and provide a high quality scientific programme with invited speakers. Special Sessions allow more time for discussion than regular sessions and their programme can differ from sessions in the main scientific programme of the meeting.

In Seville, the following special sessions are planned:

SS01 - Evolutionary processes in ecotoxicology

Monday 24 May, 8.30-16.00 hrs, Room Albaicin 1

The objective of this session is to gather ecotoxicologists who work at the interface with evolutionary biology, in a one-day conference based on presentations and discussions. Several papers have emphasized the importance of (micro) evolutionary processes in population responses to toxicants as well as of the evolutionary consequences of population exposure to toxicants (Depledge 1994; Shugart & Theodorakis, 1996; Forbes 1999; Barata et al. 2002; Matson et al. 2006; Morgan et al., 2007). Arguments have also been provided for the need to account for evolutionary impacts in the assessment of ecological risk (Bickham et al. 2000; Klerks, 2002; van Straalen & Timmermans, 2002).

Firstly, evolutionary processes may affect the accuracy of the estimation of toxicity or effects. Morgan et al. (2007) showed how adaptation may disturb toxicological expectations, in terms of dose-response curve. Moreover, toxicity tests performed without accounting for genetic diversity are likely to lead to uncertainty when used to extrapolate effects from the lab to the field (Forbes, 1999; Barata et al. 2002; see also Nowak et al. 2007). A second argument is related to ecological risk assessment and to the ability to detect and quantify interactions between toxicants and evolutionary forces (random genetic drift, inbreeding, selective processes): decreased genetic diversity and reduced ability of populations to cope with other environmental changes, accumulation of spontaneous deleterious mutations (genetic load), mutational meltdown and extinction risk,  potentially negative impacts of adaptation (loss of genetic variability, fitness cost …) (e.g., Xie & Klerks, 2002), mutagenesis, in the case of toxicants affecting the germ-line (transmission to next generations).

Such questions need to be treated in an interdisciplinary approach where methodologies specific to the field of ecotoxicology can be combined with those devoted to evolution, such as quantitative genetics (e.g., Xie and Klerks 2002; Weltje 2003; Roelofs et al. 2006; Chaumot et al. 2008) or population genetics models (e.g., Roark et al. 2005; Athrey et al. 2007; Matson et al. 2006; Bourret et al., 2008; Coutellec et al. 2008).

Specific questions may be addressed through the special session, including:

  • How can our perception of the interactions between toxicants and evolutionary processes be improved?
  • How can these interaction relationships be incorporated in the framework of ecological risk assessment? Is it realistic to consider the possibility of an index of “evolutionary risk for populations and communities exposed to toxicants”?
  • Is there a general strategy to detect adaptive processes in populations exposed to toxicants?
  • What can be gained from population genetics, gene expression profiling, quantitative genetics, and conservation genetics?
  • In the context of ecotoxicology, what is the relevance of indices such as genetic diversity, genetic differentiation, effective population size, number of lethal equivalents, population viability, heritability (genealogy- or marker-based methods), evolvability…?.

This special session includes 8 presentations that address generalized and specific aspects of evolutionary processes in ecotoxicology.


Chairs: Marie-Agnès Coutellec (INRA, Rennes Cedex, France) and Carlos Barata (IDAEA-CSIC, Barcelona, Spain)

08.30 - 08.40


08.40 - 09.20

Michael H. Depledge (Peninsula Medical School, Plymouth, Devon, UK): How do pollutants affect evolutionary processes?

09.20 - 10.05

John W. Bickham (Center for the Environment, Purdue University, West Lafayette, USA): Evolutionary toxicology: genetic impacts of contaminants to fish and wildlife in Azerbaijan

10.05 - 10.30

I. Lopes(CESAM, Universidade de Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal): Effects of toxic substances on the gene pool of natural populations: why the use of neutral markers leads to underestimation of risk

10.30 - 11.00


11.00 - 11.40

C. Theodorakis (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Edwardsville, USA): Conservation genetics and evolutionary toxicology of gopher tortoises on an army base

11.40 - 12.20

Marie-Agnès Coutellec (INRA, Rennes Cedex, France): Evolutionary potential of molecular responses to xenobiotics: a project on Lymnaea stagnalis exposed to pesticides

12.20 - 13.00

Nico van Straalen (VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands): Insights into the mechanisms of evolution from ecotoxicogenomics

13.00 - 14.00


14.00 - 14.40

Paul L. Klerks (University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Lafayette, USA): Laboratory selection in the least killifish for resistance to environmental stressors (Cd, heat):  selection responses and correlated changes

14.40 - 15.20

Carlos Barata Martí (IDAEA-CSIC, Barcelona, Spain): Life history consequences of adaptation to pollution. Daphnia longispina populations historically exposed to Cu

15.20 - 16.00

Final Discussion

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SS02 - Global stressors: climate changes, invasive species, and chemicals

Tuesday 25 May, 8.25-13.00 hrs, Room Albaicin 1

Growing human populations and associated demands for food, industrialization, and global transport contribute to stressors and pressures at global as well as regional and local scales. Notable among these are climate changes, invasive species, chemicals, and, the interactive effects of these stressors. For example, there are growing regional concerns stemming from the interaction among climate change, invasive species migrating in response to such changes, and the use of chemicals to control migrating pest species. And, the effects of global warming are of concern both for the environment and human life. Studies conducted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), government agencies, NGOs, and scientists worldwide predict that global warming will continue and could accelerate faster than expected.  Many believe the effects of global warming are already irreversible.  The expected long-term global effects include rising sea levels, increase of chronic and vector-borne diseases, ecosystem-level changes, and altered patterns of agriculture especially in developing countries in tropical areas.  In this context, environmental chemists, toxicologists, and other scientists face the challenge of guiding society’s response to global stressors, whose effects are difficult to predict, evaluate and mitigate at both global and regional scales.  New quantification techniques such as those associated with “ecosystem services” are likely needed to evaluate and express the combined effects of global stressors with respect to humans and their environment. The goal of this special session is to bring together experts from different fields to present and discuss problems posed by global stressors with particular emphasis on the combined environmental effects of climate changes, invasive species and chemicals.  The intent is to encourage discussion of methods and approaches for environmental risk assessment that address the combined effects of global stressors and integrate strategies for both human and ecosystem health. The special session will examine how global stressors intersect with issues associated with chemicals in the environment.


Chairs: Charles A. Menzie (Exponent, Alexandria, USA), Lúcia Guilhermino (Porto University, Porto, Portugal), Jörg Römbke (ECT Oekotoxikologie GmbH, Flörsheim am Main, Germany) and Rick Wenning (Environ Corporation, Emeryville, USA)

More information coming soon

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SS03 - Water quality and assessment under scarcity. Prospects and challenges in the Mediterranean river systems  affected by climate change 

 Tuesday 25 May, 13.50-18.00 hrs, Room Albaicin 1

Water scarcity and droughts have increased in number and intensity in the European Union, and it is foreseen that these conditions will increase with climate change. The direct implications of global change on hydrological regime are certain. The Mediterranean Basin is one of the most vulnerable to climate changes and one of the most prominent “hot spots” for changes in water availability due to human abstraction.  It is foreseen (IPCC) that these changes will probably not be limited to catchments draining into the Mediterranean Sea, but will affect all Mediterranean-type regions world wide. The session will discuss key issues concerning the effects of water scarcity  on chemical water quality, as it relates to nutrients, organics and pollutants and on the effects on water supply and  sanitation services, as well as water management  practices. Also this session should bring additional discussion on the effects in biodiversity conservation and the services provided  by ecosystems.


Chairs: D. Barcelo (IDAEA-CSIC, Barcelona, Spain / ICRA, Girona, Spain), S. Sabater (ICRA / UdG, Girona, Spain) and A. Ginebreda (IDAEA-CSIC, Barcelona, Spain)

13.50 - 13.55


13.55 - 14.20

Alicia Navarro (IDAEA-CSIC, Barcelona, Spain): The SCARCE Consolider project on Iberian river basins

14.20 - 14.45

Jos Brils (Deltares, Utrecht, The Netherlands): Risk based management of Mediterranena river systems- EU FP6 project 

14.45 - 15.10

Lorenzo Proia (ICRA-UdG, Girona, Spain): Effects of toxicant pulses on biofilm phosphorus uptake in water scarce situations

15.10 - 15.35

Joop Harmsen (Alterra, Wageningen, The Netherlands): The role of contaminated sediments in dry river catchments 

15.35 - 16.00

F. Frances (UPV, Valencia, Spain): Assessing nitrogen dynamics in a small Mediterranean forested catchment

16.00 - 16.20

Sandra Pérez (IDAEA-CSIC, Barcelona, Spain): Occurrence and loads of emerging pollutants in the Llobregat River (NE Spain)

16.20 - 16.45

A Ginebreda (IDAEA-CSIC, Barcelona, Spain): Wastewater reuse in Mediterranean semi-arid areas: the impact of discharges of tertiary treated sewage on the load of polar organic pollutants in the Llobregat river

16.45 - 17.10

Yolanda Picó  (UPV, Valencia, Spain): Spatial distribution of pharmaceuticals between water, soils and sediments in the wetland ecosystems of the Xuquer River Basin (Valencia, Spain) 

17.10 - 17.35

Meritxell Gros (ICRA, Girona, Spain): Influence of hydrological conditions and dilution factor on the occurrence of pharmaceuticals in river waters. Case study: the Ebro river basin (NE Spain)  

17.35 - 18.00

Marinella Farré (IDAEA-CSIC, Barcelona, Spain): Carbon nanomaterials: an emerging contaminant and/or a  promising adsorbent in wastewater treatment. Occurrence in the Llobregat river basin” 

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SS04 - Defining adverse outcome pathways for predictive ecotoxicology

Wednesday 26 May, 14.55-18.05 hrs, Room Albaicin 1

The historical paradigm for protecting the environment from adverse effects of chemicals has primarily centered on whole animal toxicity testing with single chemicals of concern. However, due to the costs and time involved it is not practical or feasible to exhaustively test all chemicals that could adversely affect ecosystems. These realities have long indicated the need for scientifically-sound models and tools for predicting adverse effects of chemicals based on relatively little data. Exposure considerations (e.g., likely route of exposure, environmental fate, and metabolism) and uncertainty factors have served as the foundation for such extrapolations in ecological risk assessment. To date, efforts to incorporate mechanistic understanding of biological systems as a basis for effects extrapolation have been limited. However, with recent and projected advances in toxicogenomics, bioinformatics, systems biology, and computational toxicology, scientists seem poised to make critical breakthroughs that will revolutionize predictive toxicology and elicit a paradigm shift in regulatory toxicity testing and risk assessment. This special symposium will present results of a SETAC Pellston workshop focused on exploring and projecting the ways in which toxicogenomics, bioinformatics, systems biology, and computational toxicology could be used to facilitate predictive ecotoxicity testing and/or ecological risk assessment.


Chairs: Natàlia Garcia-Reyero (Jackson State University, Jackson, MS, USA) and Edward Perkins (US Army Engineering Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS, USA)

14.55 - 15.00


15.00 - 15.20

Natàlia Garcia-Reyero (Jackson State University, Jackson, MS, USA): Paving the way for predictive ecotoxicology in the 21st century

15.20 - 15.40

Knut-Erik Tollefsen (Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), Norway): Adverse outcome pathways: A conceptual framework to support ecotoxicology research and risk assessment

15.40 - 16.00

Kevin Chipman (University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom): An overview of reverse engineering adverse outcome pathways from “omics” effects data

16.00 - 16.25


16.25 - 16.45

Francesco Falciani (University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom): Exploration and discovery of toxicological pathways via reverse engineering

16.45 - 17.05

Markus Hecker (ENTRIX Inc. Saskatoon, SK, Canada): Adverse outcome pathways and ecological risk assessment: Bridging to population level effects

17.05 - 17.25

Edward Perkins (US Army Engineering Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS, USA): Testing and risk assessment of chemicals that impact highly adaptive biological systems: the case of endocrine systems

17.25 - 17.45

Malin Celander (University of Gothenburg, Göteborg, Sweden): Species extrapolation for the 21st century

17.45 - 18.05

Sean Kennedy (Environment Canada, Canada): From molecular mechanism of action to ecological risk assessment – The aryl hydrocarbon receptor and the sensitivity of avian species to ‘dioxin-like’ compounds

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