New developments in ecotoxicology are changing the way pesticides and other toxicants are evaluated. An emphasis on life histories and population fitness through the use of demography, other measures of population growth rate, field studies, and modeling are being exploited to derive better estimates of pesticide impacts on both target and nontarget species than traditional lethal dose estimates. We review the state of the art in demographic toxicology, an approach to the evaluation of toxicity that uses life history parameters and other measures of population growth rate. A review of the literature revealed that 75 studies on the use of demography and similar measures of population growth rate in toxicology have been published since 1962. Of these 75 studies, the majority involved arthropods. Recent evaluations have indicated that ecotoxicological analysis based on population growth rate results in more accurate assessments of the impacts of pesticides and other toxicants because measures of population growth rate combine lethal and sublethal effects, which lethal dose/concentration estimates (LD/LC50) cannot do. We contend that to advance our knowledge of toxicant impacts on arthropods, the population growth rate approach should be widely adopted.


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