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Pure Appl. Chem., 2003, Vol. 75, No. 11-12, pp. 2197-2206

Historical perspective on endocrine disruption in wildlife

P. Matthiessen

Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Lancaster Environment Centre, Library Avenue, Bailrigg, Lancaster LA1 4AP, UK

Abstract: Endocrine disruption (ED) as a named field of research has been very active for over 10 years, but effects in wildlife that would now be labeled as ED have been studied since the 1940s. This paper briefly surveys the progress in wildlife studies that has been made to date and draws out the major themes and issues that have been identified. In particular, it discusses information concerning causative substances, modes of action, ubiquity of effects across taxa, individual- and population-level impacts, and the importance of low-dose and mixture effects. The main conclusion is that while most wildlife taxa are showing some ED effects at some locations, good evidence for population-level impacts is still limited to a few groups. In order to improve both the interpretation of field observations and the way in which environmental risk assessments are conducted, we need to develop an enhanced ability to predict effects on populations and communities from a knowledge of effects on individuals.