Modelling the effects of ionising radiation on a vole population from the Chernobyl Red forest in an ecological context

Vives i Batlle, J, Sazykina, T, Kryshev, A., Wood, M ORCID:, Smith, K, Copplestone, D and Biermans, G 2020, 'Modelling the effects of ionising radiation on a vole population from the Chernobyl Red forest in an ecological context' , Ecological Modelling, 438 , p. 109306.

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A novel mathematical model was developed to study the historical effects of ionising radiation from the 1986 Chernobyl accident on a vole population. The model uses an ecosystem approach combining radiation damages and repair, life history and ecological interactions. The influence of reproduction, mortality and factors such as ecosystem resource, spatial heterogeneity and migration are included. Radiation-induced damages are represented by a radiosensitive ‘repairing pool’ mediating between healthy, damaged and radio-adapted animals. The endpoints of the model are repairable radiation damage (morbidity), impairment of reproductive ability and mortality. The focus of the model is the Red Forest, an area some 3 km west of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. We simulated ecosystem effects of both current exposures and historical doses, including transgenerational effects and adaptation. The results highlight the primary role of animal mobility in stabilising the vole population after the accident, the importance of ecosystem recovery, the time evolution of the repairing and fecundity pools and the impact of adaptation on population sustainability. Using this model, we found dose rate tipping points for mortality and morbidity, along with a limiting migration rate for population survival and the limiting size of the most contaminated region not entailing loss of survival. Our ecosystem approach to radioecological modelling enables an exploration of the impact of radiation in an ecological context, consistent with the available observations. Model predictions indicate that population sensitivity in our exposure scenario does not contradict the benchmarks currently considered in risk assessments for wildlife. The model can be used to support advice on the extent to which historical doses and other ecological factors may influence different exposure modelling scenarios. The approach could easily be adapted to accommodate other stressors, thereby contributing to the evaluation of the regulatory benchmarks used in non-radiological risk assessment.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: ** Article version: AM ** Embargo end date: 20-10-2021 ** From Elsevier via Jisc Publications Router ** Licence for AM version of this article starting on 20-10-2021: **Journal IDs: issn 03043800 **History: issue date 15-12-2020; published_online 20-10-2020; accepted 21-09-2020
Schools: Schools > School of Environment and Life Sciences
Journal or Publication Title: Ecological Modelling
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0304-3800
Related URLs:
Funders: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Radioactive Waste Management Ltd., The Environment Agency
SWORD Depositor: Publications Router
Depositing User: Publications Router
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2020 14:55
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 17:18

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