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Wildlife Toxicology
BI 469/669
Fall 2013
Study Guide for Exam
Describe reasons for studying wildlife toxicology.
Define the terms: toxicology, toxin, and toxicant. Distinguish between pharmacology and toxicology.
Distinguish between poisonous and venomous animals. What functions are served by the toxins of
venomous animals? What are plant secondary compounds? What is a primary function of plant secondary
Name several disciplines of toxicology and describe the area of concern for each of these disciplines,
including: analytical toxicology, clinical toxicology, forensic toxicology, occupational toxicology, regulatory
toxicology, food and cosmetic toxicology, basic or mechanistic toxicology, and environmental toxicology.
Describe the mechanism of action concept. Describe levels of analysis of toxic effects from molecular to
ecosystem levels. Which approaches (laboratory vs. field or combined) are most appropriate for studying
different levels of analysis of toxic effects? Distinguish between in vitro and in vivo testing for toxicity. What
is a mesocosm? Do toxic compounds always have a single mechanism of action?
Describe the target tissue or site of action concept. Is the target tissue always the tissue with the highest
concentration of the toxic chemical? Distinguish between dose and dosage. Distinguish between external
or nominal dose and internal or target tissue dose. What is an LD50 value?
Define the term biomarker. Describe the use of biomarkers in toxicology. Give some examples of
biomarkers used in toxicology.
Distinguish between acute and chronic exposures and acute and chronic toxic effects.
Describe environmental persistence of chemicals using the concept of half-life. Distinguish between
bioaccumulation and biomagnification. Distinguish between lipophilic, non-polar compounds and lipophobic,
polar compounds.
Describe the importance of biological and environmental transformation of compounds. Distinguish between
parent compounds and metabolites.
Describe the landmark contribution of Paracelsus to toxicology.
Discuss the following factors affecting toxicity: dose, duration of exposure, route of exposure, species,
genetic variability, age and developmental stage, chemical form, gender, nutritional status, concomitant
disease, stressors, prior exposure history, and chemical interactions.
Briefly describe the trade-offs between dose/dosage and duration of exposure.
Why are very high dose/dosage levels often used in toxicity screening and how do the public and media
misinterpret this?
How does the pattern (interval and frequency) of exposure affect toxicity?
What is the common route of exposure of wildlife to poisons? What additional route of exposure may impact
In addition to the common route of exposure listed above, describe routes of exposure used clinically and
Explain the following abbreviations: p.o., s.c., i.v., i.p., and i.m.
Briefly describe the genetic variability within a population of a single species in sensitivity/resistance to
toxicity. Describe the concept of a “safety margin” in standard setting to protect highly sensitive individuals.
Explain the use of highly inbred strains of laboratory animals in typical toxicology testing.
Briefly describe the general rule of thumb with regard to age/developmental stage and sensitivity to toxicity.
Explain the greater sensitivity of developing organisms to toxicity. Explain the greater sensitivity of aged
organisms to toxicity. Describe the difficulty of studying toxicity in older age organisms. What age group is
often used in typical toxicology testing of laboratory animals? How did the thalidomide tragedy force
attention to toxicity testing in early developmental stages? Define the terms teratology and teratogenic
Briefly describe the affect of chemical form on toxicity. Explain this relationship in terms of toxicokinetics.
Briefly describe the affect of gender on toxicity. Relate this to hormonal status of females and the metabolic
demands of reproduction.
Describe the general rule of thumb relating nutrient quality of the diet and sensitivity to toxicity. Explain this
relationship as both a non-specific and a specific action of diet on toxicity. Describe the nutrient composition
of standard lab animal chows often used in typical toxicology testing.
Briefly describe the effect of concomitant disease on sensitivity to toxicity. Explain this relationship as both a
non-specific and a specific action of concurrent pathophysiology on toxicity.
Briefly describe the relationship between generalized stressors and sensitivity to toxicity. Provide several
examples of generalized stressors.
How can prior exposure to poisons result in sensitization or enhanced sensitivity to toxicity? How can prior
exposure to poisons result in tolerance or decreased sensitivity to toxicity? Describe the processes of upand down-regulation of receptors and hepatic enzyme induction.
Describe generic forms of toxicity interactions between chemicals, including additive, potentiation,
synergism, antagonism. Describe the real world importance of the toxicity of chemical mixtures. Describe
difficulties in studying chemical mixtures.
Define the term toxicokinetics. Provide an overview of the relationships between absorption, distribution,
biotransformation, storage, and excretion processes.
Distinguish between biotransformation reactions that result in detoxification vs. bioactivation. What is the
most important site of biotransformation reactions?
Distinguish between Phase I and Phase II biotransformation reactions. What types of chemical reactions
occur in Phase I biotransformations? What are the cytochrome P450 and mixed-function oxygenase
systems? What types of chemical reactions occur in Phase II biotransformations?
Describe the environmental persistence of metals. What metals have most impacted wildlife?
Describe the historical problem of lead poisoning of waterfowl. Explain the benefit of steel shot for waterfowl
hunting. What species are still impacted by ingestion of lead shot?
Describe the sources of mercury release into the environment. Describe the effect of methylation of mercury
on toxicity. In general terms, what species are impacted by methylmercury?
Describe the impact of selenium on bird species at Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge.
Relate the availability of research funding to spikes in publication of wildlife studies on oil spills, perchlorate,
and endocrine disruption.
Provide a brief history of human use of pesticides. What compounds were used as pesticides in the past?
Explain how pesticides could also be called biocides. Name several types of pesticides (based upon the
target organisms).
How did insecticide chemical composition change during the 1930s and ‘40s? Provide a brief history of the
discovery of organochlorine (OC) and organophosphate (OP) insecticides
Describe the pros and cons of the OC insecticides. Why were OC insecticides banned in most developed
countries? Describe the pros and cons of the OP insecticides.
What are the pros and cons of carbamate and pyrethroid insecticides?
What are rodenticides and herbicides? What groups of non-target organisms are impacted by rodenticides
and herbicides?
Define the following terms in relation to insecticides: broad spectrum, target species, non-target species,
environmental persistence, and secondary toxicity.
What are polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)? What were major uses of PCBs? Why were PCBs banned?
Describe the general structure of PCBs. How does chlorination pattern affect environmental persistence?
Distinguish between coplanar and non-coplanar PCBs with regard to chlorine substitution and toxicity.
What is toxicological significance of the aryl hydrocarbon (Ah) receptor?
What are dioxin-like compounds? Describe the concept of toxic equivalency factors (TEF or TEQ) in
expressing the toxicity of complex mixtures of chlorinated toxicants.
What are dioxins (or more properly polychlorinated dibenzodioxins [PCDDs] and furans or polychlorinated
dibenzofurans [PCDFs] and dioxin-like PCBs)? What are environmental sources for dixons?
What are polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)? What are uses and environmental sources for PBDEs?
What are perfluoroalkyl compounds (PFCs)? What are uses and environmental sources for PFCs?
What are general guidelines or suggestions if you encounter sick or dead wildlife? What are zoonoses or
zoonotic diseases? Name and describe several important zoonotic diseases.
Name and describe several important non-zoonotic diseases that affect wild mammals. Name and describe
several important non-zoonotic diseases that affect wild birds.
How are statistics used in scientific reports? Distinguish between descriptive and inferential statistics.
Name and briefly describe several commonly used descriptive statistics. Distinguish between parametric
and non-parametric statistics and give examples of each. What is meant by “statistically significant”?
What is the purpose of sample preparation for analytical chemistry? Describe the importance of standards
in analytical chemistry. Name two commonly used techniques for analysis of elements in samples. Name
three commonly used techniques for analysis of organic compounds in samples.