Aquatic herbicide exposure increases salamander desiccation risk eight months later in a terrestrial environment

Jason R Rohr, Brent D Palmer
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 2005, 24 (5): 1253-8
Contaminants and climate change may be factors in amphibian declines. However, few studies have explored their joint impacts on postmetamorphic amphibians, a life stage of great importance to amphibian population dynamics. Here, we examine the effects of premetamorphic exposure (mean exposure of 64 d) to ecologically relevant concentrations of the globally common herbicide atrazine (0, 4, 40, 400 microg/L) on the behavior and water retention of lone and grouped postmetamorphic, streamside salamanders, Ambystoma barbouri. Salamanders exposed to > or = 40 microg/L of atrazine exhibited greater activity, fewer water-conserving behaviors, and accelerated water loss four and eight months after exposure compared to controls. No recovery from atrazine exposure was detected and its effects were independent of the presence of conspecifics. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that adverse climatic conditions and contaminants can interact to harm post-metamorphic amphibians; however, they suggest that these two stressors need not be experienced simultaneously to do so. These results emphasize the importance of considering both latent and cumulative effects of temporally linked stressors in ecotoxicology.

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