Traits describe the physical characteristics, ecological niche, and functional role of species within ecosystems, and trait-based approaches are now being introduced into the field of Ecological Risk Assessment (ERA). The costs and benefits arising from the adoption of these approaches in the assessment of risks from toxic substances are described, and the path forward for this new frontier in risk assessment science is presented. In particular, the necessity for more open collaboration and web-based data-sharing to facilitate the development of these exciting new tools is stressed, and the role of scientific organizations such as SETAC as promoters of this ambitious program is highlighted.
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Vol. 4 • No. 1