Integrative behavioral ecotoxicology: bringing together fields to establish new insight to behavioral ecology, toxicology, and conservation

Elizabeth K. Peterson, State University of New York (SUNY) System
David B. Buchwalter, University of North Carolina
Jacob L. Kerby, University of South Dakota
Matthew K. LeFauve, George Washington University
Claire W. Varian-Ramos, Colorado State University - Pueblo
John P. Swaddle, College of William and Mary


The fields of behavioral ecology, conservation science, and environmental toxicology individually aim to protect and manage the conservation of wildlife in response to anthropogenic stressors, including widespread anthropogenic pollution. Although great emphasis in the field of toxicology has been placed on understanding how single pollutants affect survival, a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach that includes behavioral ecology is essential to address how anthropogenic compounds are a risk for the survival of species and populations in an increasingly polluted world. We provide an integrative framework for behavioral ecotoxicology using Tinbergen's four postulates (causation and mechanism, development and ontogeny, function and fitness, and evolutionary history and phylogenetic patterns). The aims of this review are: 1) to promote an integrative view and re-define the field of integrative behavioral ecotoxicology; 2) to demonstrate how studying ecotoxicology can promote behavior research; and 3) to identify areas of behavioral ecotoxicology that require further attention to promote the integration and growth of the field.