Typically, ecotoxicologists are involved in tracing the metabolism, accumulation and movements of natural and synthetic chemicals through different food chains. They may identify population changes after exposure to pollutants, particularly genetic changes such as the development of resistance to pesticides in insects.
In seeking to predict and prevent pollution impacts, the ecotoxicologist’s main task is increasingly to develop models which can be used to predict the fate and effects of chemicals within an ecosystem. Often, to do this successfully, there must be close co-operation with ecologists working in the field and those in the laboratory using the latest techniques of biochemical toxicology and chemistry. Field-work allows some ecotoxicologists to spend time out doors, investigating the effects of chemicals in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. For the aquatic environment, this often involves working on research ships or possibly scuba diving; whilst for terrestrial environment, ecotoxicologists may conduct surveys of farmland birds and mammals.
Ecotoxicologists help to protect the environment and existing ecosystems for future generations and they make an important contributions to protecting food resources in agriculture, aquaculture and fishing around the world.