Skip to main content

Data from: Incorporating evolutionary insights to improve ecotoxicology for freshwater species

Cite this dataset

Brady, Steven P.; Richardson, Jonathan L.; Kunz, Bethany K. (2017). Data from: Incorporating evolutionary insights to improve ecotoxicology for freshwater species [Dataset]. Dryad.


Ecotoxicological studies have provided extensive insights into the lethal and sublethal effects of environmental contaminants. These insights are critical for environmental regulatory frameworks, which rely on knowledge of toxicity for developing policies to manage contaminants. While varied approaches have been applied to ecotoxicological questions, perspectives related to the evolutionary history of focal species or populations have received little consideration. Here, we evaluate chloride toxicity from the perspectives of both macroevolution and contemporary evolution. First, by mapping chloride toxicity values derived from the literature onto a phylogeny of macroinvertebrates, fish, and amphibians, we tested whether macroevolutionary relationships across species and taxa are predictive of chloride sensitivity. Next, we conducted chloride exposure tests for two amphibian species to assess whether potential contemporary evolutionary change associated with environmental chloride contamination influences chloride sensitivity across local populations. We show that explicitly evaluating both macro- and contemporary evolution can provide important and even qualitatively different insights from those obtained via traditional ecotoxicological studies. While macroevolutionary perspectives can help forecast toxicological endpoints for species with untested sensitivities, contemporary evolutionary perspectives demonstrate the need to consider the environmental context of exposed populations when measuring toxicity. Accounting for divergence among populations of interest can provide more accurate and relevant information related to the sensitivity of populations that may be evolving in response to selection from contaminant exposure. Our data shows that approaches accounting for and specifically examining variation among natural populations should become standard practice in ecotoxicology.

Usage notes


National Science Foundation, Award: DEB 1011335