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Ecosystems Research

Ecosystems

EPA exposure scientists are developing, implementing and evaluating state-of-science tools for assessing chemical exposure risks to ecosystems. EPA scientists have developed a prototype cloud computing-base knowledge management system to support ecological risk decisions. They have also developed metabolomics-based tools for characterizing changes in metabolic substances produced by animal systems in the presence of different stressor chemicals and scenarios. Modeling systems and frameworks developed by EPA exposure scientists facilitate the use of integrated environmental modeling for decision making.

Software Systems Interoperability

EPA scientists are conducting research to establish and promote best practices and standards for increasing software reuse and interoperability for integrated and environmental modeling. Researchers are currently working to document state-of-the-art practices in software development. Researchers are also developing proof-of-principle projects to demonstrate interoperability; and establishing best practices and standards for incorporation of interoperability and reuse in software development.

Metabolomics

EPA scientists are developing metabolomics-based tools for characterizing changes in metabolic substances produced by animal systems in the presence of different stressor chemicals and scenarios. These tools are helping scientists define possible adverse outcomes in fish and wildlife as a result of exposure to specific stressors. The researchers have advanced this program by using modeling systems to study known estrogenic chemicals and exposures to modeled species. They are now working to apply the technology to “real world” exposures and are developing biomarkers of exposure for humans and important ecological species.

Ubertool: Ecological Risk Web Application for Pesticide Modeling

EPA scientists have developed a prototype cloud computing-base knowledge management system to support ecological risk decisions mandated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Endangered Species Act. The “ubertool” dashboard infrastructure integrates the processing of model results for over a dozen commonly-used EPA aquatic and terrestrial regulatory models and supporting datasets.

Integrated Environmental Modeling

Integrated environmental modeling (IEM) is a new paradigm for conducting environmental assessments. EPA researchers collaborated with the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a software-based infrastructure that facilitates integrated modeling. This infrastructure is called Framework for Risk Analysis in Multi-media Environmental Systems – or FRAMES – and has been extended to include two complementary technologies. Collectively, these technologies are state-of-the-art integrated environmental modeling systems that are currently applied in EPA research and regulatory applications.

Environmental Fate Simulator

The Environmental Fate Simulator, or EFS, is a computational tool being designed to screen organic chemicals for possible routes of human and ecological exposure. The EFS compiles all available data on chemicals and chemical processes, integrating this information with state-of-the-art computer tools that store information about chemical structure and reactions. The tool is being designed to systematically capture and use this science to assist the agency's pesticide and pollution programs in conducting high-volume, high-speed assessments for registration of new chemicals and re-registration of existing chemicals.

SPARC Performs Automated Reasoning in Chemistry

EPA ecosystems researchers have developed a predictive modeling system known as SPARC (SPARC Performs Automated Reasoning in Chemistry) for estimating chemical reactivity parameters and physical properties for a wide range of organic molecules. This information is needed to be able to predict the fate and transport of pollutants in the environment. SPARC is being designed to incorporate multiple mathematical approaches to estimate important chemical reactions and behavior. It will then interface directly with air, water, and land models to provide scientists with data that can inform risk assessments and help prioritize toxicity-testing requirements for regulated chemicals.

Data for Environmental Modeling (D4EM)

Data for environmental modeling, or D4EM, is a comprehensive set of tools that obtains and processes environmental data for mathematical models. D4EM is a programming library with a component-based architecture that can be integrated with other modeling applications. Programmers can use D4EM to perform data management and processing tasks inside a specialized application. The user interacts with data through a customized MapWindow GIS user interface for obtaining and manipulating data, validating data for completeness, and generating model-specific data files.

Watershed Health Assessment Tools Investigating Fisheries (WHATIF)

WHATIF is software that integrates a number of calculators, tools, and models for assessing the health of watersheds and streams with an emphasis on fish communities. The toolset consists of hydrologic and stream geometry calculators, a fish assemblage predictor, a fish habitat suitability calculator, macro-invertebrate biodiversity calculators, and a process-based model to predict biomass dynamics of stream biota. WHATIF also supports screening analyses, such as prioritizing areas for restoration and comparing alternative watershed and habitat management scenarios.

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