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Receptor Characterisation - Tiers 2 & 3

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Problem Identification

Receptor Characterisation

Exposure Assessment

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Risk Characterisation

Tier 2 – Receptor Characterisation

Tier 2 Receptor Characterisation will involve identifying the potential human receptors and ecological values to be protected, including identifying the people and species known to be present at or visiting the site. This should also include identification of species frequenting other sites that are adversely affected by contaminants. You may want to consider undertaking a preliminary biological survey to confirm these details, but this may not be necessary until Tier 3.

For any species or populations that are particularly sensitive or valuable for other reasons (e.g. rarity), the following information should be obtained and documented:

  • basic life history patterns
  • habitat requirements
  • food web interactions where it is possible to discern these.

With regard to a specific population, the following information may be obtained where possible:

  • preliminary estimates of population density, age-class structure, etc.
  • preliminary estimates of the percentage of mature females, female fecundity and other measures of the health of the population of the species of interest.

For habitats, communities and ecosystems, obtain more detail regarding what potential adverse effects may be manifested by the contaminant of concern.

Tier 3 – Receptor Characterisation

If not undertaken previously, a biological survey will need to be undertaken at the site and surrounding areas. This should confirm key ecosystems, processes and species, sensitive land uses and ecological values, and the protection status of ecological values and the basis of the protection decisions. Estimates of biodiversity, estimation of ecosystem functions and potential successional patterns following remediation may also be required.

Environment Canada (1994) considers that the following information may need to be obtained:

  • ecosystem characteristics
  • measures of biodiversity and biomass
  • functional groups and trophic linkages (e.g. predation, parasitism)
  • measures of basic function including primary production, respiration, decomposition, nutrient and energy cycling, etc.
  • habitat characteristics
  • local topography, 3-D configuration of at-risk habitat
  • catchment characteristics including surface cover, soils, etc.
  • surface water and groundwater hydrology
  • weather/climate data especially affecting population levels
  • particularly sensitive locations
  • community characteristics
  • indicator species
  • migratory species that are likely to be affected
  • overall population density
  • number and distribution of populations
  • age-class structures
  • species or populations of interest
  • body tissue/fluid analysis to determine contaminant body burdens
  • behavioural aspects (e.g. avoidance behaviour)
  • food requirements, ingestion rates
  • natural variability in life cycle or other aspects.

Note: this list is not exhaustive, and the appropriate information may be different and/or more or less extensive depending on previous information obtained and the nature of the receptor.

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Page last updated: 01 May 2007

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