Evaluating the Relative Sensitivity of the “P&T” in EPT: Implications for Standardized Toxicity Testing

P.K. Sibley, J.R. Wirtz, M. McCoole, L.L. Lagadic, D.J. Soucek, T.J. Norberg-King, I. Roessink

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The EPT (Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera) group of insects are widely applied as indicators of water quality in biomonitoring because they contain some of the most sensitive species to environmental pol-lutants. This widespread application in the field has not translated into standardized lab-based toxicity tests, in part, because many of the taxa tested in the early days of test development were difficult to culture due to unique environmental requirements (e.g., flowing water), most would not reproduce under laboratory conditions, and some were sensitive to the lab environment (often failing to meet control test acceptability criteria). In the past few years, however, interest in developing standard toxicity test protocols using EPT taxa has been renewed due to improved methods for culturing, development of novel exposure systems for obligate flowing water species, and an improved understanding of biological require-ments. To date, much of this effort has focused on European and North American species of Ephemeroptera (mayflies) but recent testing with both Plecoptera (stoneflies) and Trichoptera (caddisflies) with neonicoti-noid insecticides indicates that standardized exposure protocols may be possible. In this presentation, we will review historical and recent applica-tions of Plecoptera and Trichoptera species in toxicity testing with the goal of evaluating their suitability for lab-based chemical assessments. In addition to practical considerations, we examined the relative sensitivity of EPT taxa based on studies derived from the literature and the applica-tion of Species Sensitivity Distributions developed for hazard assessments with neonicotinoid insecticides. We show that Ephemeropteran species, on average, are more sensitive than Plecopteran and Trichopteran species but that there is wide variation within and between the orders depending on genus, life history characteristics, and chemical class.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAbstracts of the 39th Annual Meeting, Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
StatePublished - 2018


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