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Making sense of ecotoxicity test results

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DEBtox information

E-books / Making sense ...

Information about "Making sense ..."

This page contains information about the e-book "Making sense of chemical stress" on the application of Dynamic Energy Budget theory in ecotoxicology and stress ecology. This book forms a gentle introduction in the concepts behind DEB theory, and how to apply them in practice. Therefore, the book is completely "math-free". For those that like to see the equations and derivations: check out the downloads below under "Technical background for the e-book". The first version of this book was made available April 9, 2012.

The book is offered through the Leanpub publishing framework. It can still be downloaded for free, but you also have the option to pay for it. Please consider this option, for it will allow me to dedicate time and effort to updating of this e-book, writing new ones, and maintaining/developing the supporting software.

Note about version 2.0 of the e-book.
With the development of GUTS, and especially the e-book update of 8 Dec. 2018, Roman Ashauer and myself have established a highly consistent outline for TKTD models. This outline places the concept of 'damage' in a central position. We strongly feel that it is now time to use the same general outline for DEB-based models as well. This was already included in the update of the DEBkiss e-book, but now also in this e-book (however, not yet in the associated technical document).

Technical background for the e-book

When I started with this e-book, I also started working on a technical background document containing model derivations, model equations, and model extensions. However, as time progressed, I failed to keep this document up to date with the latest developments. The document I prepared is now severely outdated (the bulk was written in 2012). Most strikingly: it still links effects to internal concentrations, whereas we should now always consider a 'damage' state variable. Furthermore it focusses on the scaled standard model, which is not so much used anymore (e.g., the AmP project applies the non-scaled model), and it focusses on the 'classical DEBtox' formulation (as published by Jager & Zimmer in 2012, which is now replaced by 'DEBtox2019').

In short: I do not recommend the technical document anymore; for the up-to-date DEB-TKTD models, it is best to use the supporting information (SI) of the papers in which they are presented. However, the technical document does contain some additional ideas (e.g., extended TK modules, more modes of action) and a more extensive treatment of the statistics for model fitting. Therefore, I still keep it available for download.
  • Download the technical document (version Beta 1.2 of 14 August 2015, PDF 1.3 Mb, see warnings above!). Check the version log for changes relative to the previous version.
  • For simplified DEBtox models, I suggest focussing on my 2020 paper (download accepted version) and its extensive SI for the equations and derivations. Also the DEBkiss e-book contains a lot of background on this model, as well as derivations of simplified models and possible model extensions.
  • For DEB-TKTD with the full standard DEB animal model, I advice our paper, published open access in 2023 and the extensive SI with all model equations.
 I may decide to update the technical document at some point (or write a new one), when I can find plenty of time. But I don't expect this to happen soon.

How do I refer to the book?

Please refer to the Leanpub page ( with the version of the PDF. For more specific citations, you could refer to the published papers in the open literature, such as:
  • Jager T, Heugens EHW, Kooijman SALM (2006). Making sense of ecotoxicological test results: towards application of process-based models. Ecotoxicology 15:305-314. DOI 10.1007/s10646-006-0060-x (general DEBtox principles)
  • Jager T, Vandenbrouck T, Baas J, De Coen WM, Kooijman SALM (2010). A biology-based approach for mixture toxicity of multiple endpoints over the life cycle. Ecotoxicology 19:351-361. DOI 10.1007/s10646-009-0417-z (toxicants in full DEB model)
  • Jager T, Albert C, Preuss T, Ashauer R (2011). General Unified Threshold model of Survival - a toxicokinetic-toxicodynamic framework for ecotoxicology. Environ Sci Technol 45:2529-2540. DOI 10.1021/es103092a (effects on survival only)
  • Jager T, Zimmer EI (2012). Simplified Dynamic Energy Budget model for analysing ecotoxicity data. Ecol Mod. 225:74-81 DOI 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2011.11.012 (simplified DEBtox model with statistical framework)
  • Jager T, Martin BT, Zimmer EI (2013). DEBkiss or the quest for the simplest generic model of animal life history. Journal of Theoretical Biology 328:9-18. DOI 10.1016/j.jtbi.2013.03.011 (simplified DEBkiss model)
  • Jager T (2020). Revisiting simplified DEBtox models for analysing ecotoxicity data. Ecol Modell 416:108904. (based on DEBkiss)
  • Jager T, Goussen B, Gergs A (2023). Using the standard DEB animal model for toxicokinetic-toxicodynamic analysis. Ecol Modell 475:110187. (based on standard DEB)

Where can I find software to do 'DEBtox' analysis?

Matlab-based software packages for DEB-based analyses are offered as part of the BYOM platform on this web site. This is not user-friendly software, so you need expertise with Matlab, experience with BYOM, and knowledge of DEB-TKTD models to use them properly.

The DEBtox information site,, since July 2011