Calibration and validation of toxicokinetic-toxicodynamic models for three neonicotinoids and some aquatic macroinvertebrates

Andreas Focks*, Dick Belgers, Marie Claire Boerwinkel, Laura Buijse, Ivo Roessink, Paul J. van Den Brink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Exposure patterns in ecotoxicological experiments often do not match the exposure profiles for which a risk assessment needs to be performed. This limitation can be overcome by using toxicokinetic-toxicodynamic (TKTD) models for the prediction of effects under time-variable exposure. For the use of TKTD models in the environmental risk assessment of chemicals, it is required to calibrate and validate the model for specific compound–species combinations. In this study, the survival of macroinvertebrates after exposure to the neonicotinoid insecticide was modelled using TKTD models from the General Unified Threshold models of Survival (GUTS) framework. The models were calibrated on existing survival data from acute or chronic tests under static exposure regime. Validation experiments were performed for two sets of species-compound combinations: one set focussed on multiple species sensitivity to a single compound: imidacloprid, and the other set on the effects of multiple compounds for a single species, i.e., the three neonicotinoid compounds imidacloprid, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam, on the survival of the mayfly Cloeon dipterum. The calibrated models were used to predict survival over time, including uncertainty ranges, for the different time-variable exposure profiles used in the validation experiments. From the comparison between observed and predicted survival, it appeared that the accuracy of the model predictions was acceptable for four of five tested species in the multiple species data set. For compounds such as neonicotinoids, which are known to have the potential to show increased toxicity under prolonged exposure, the calibration and validation of TKTD models for survival needs to be performed ideally by considering calibration data from both acute and chronic tests.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)992-1007
Issue number7
Early online date1 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018


  • Aquatic ecotoxicology
  • Macroinvertebrates
  • Neonicotinoids
  • Time-variable exposure
  • Toxicokinetic-toxicodynamic modelling


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