Going Beyond the Organism

All of the past, present, and future research in the field of endocrine disruption will forever beg the question of "so what?" Do the alterations in control, production, availability, and action of hormones have an effect at the population, community and ecosystem levels? Future research must rapidly move to address this question whatever model or system is being investigated.

There is a growing need for a blending of the strengths of the fields of ecology and toxicology. There is a dearth of studies that have examined the effects of endocrine disruption at the population level. A new way to ask questions about the effects of xenobiotics on the environment will need to include an integration of the best of both disciplines and recognition of each field's weaknesses [4,126]. Toxicologists bring an understanding of controlled laboratory experiments and the focus on the organismal, cellular, and molecular levels of biological hierarchy. In comparison, ecologists bring an aptitude for examining the larger picture and how each individual organism relates to the population, community, and ecosystem levels. These disparate pursuits must integrate to enable us to understand truly the full impact of EDCs on the long-term welfare of wildlife and humans.

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