A recent summary of the current state of understanding concerning amphibian population declines indicates that airborne contaminants are important but that “existing test protocols might be inappropriate” to evaluate their influence. This chapter advocates adopting several approaches, experimental designs, and analyses that will promote a better understanding of the effects that chemicals can have on individuals, populations, and communities. Explicit incorporation of genetic variation into ecotoxicology studies is perhaps the most ignored yet critical factor for understanding the differential susceptibility of populations. Genetic variation, as measured by life history traits or molecular markers, within and among amphibian populations is well established. However, standard procedures for using multiple populations, parents, or full-sibship families of eggs in toxicological tests are seldom utilized. This chapter proposes a hierarchical approach to understanding genetic variation that incorporates individual, population, and geographic variation into experiments. It also shows how the results of ecotoxicology studies may be linked to conservation efforts for amphibians.
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