Amphibian larvae are commonly exposed to low levels of pesticides during their development. Chronic studies generally examine the effects of long-term exposure, but they often disregard the importance of the individual life stage at which tadpoles are exposed. I determined the point during development at which carbaryl effects are manifested by exposing southern leopard frog tadpoles (Rana sphenocephala) to the pesticide carbaryl at five different times during development. Metamorphs exposed throughout the tadpole stage and throughout development (egg, embryo, tadpole) experienced significant mortality at all chemical levels. Although the length of the larval period was the same for all experimental groups, metamorphs exposed during the egg stage were smaller than their corresponding controls, independent of whether they were exposed at any other stage. Nearly 18% of individuals exposed to carbaryl during development exhibited some type of developmental deformity (including both visceral and limb malformities), compared to a single deformed (< 1%) control tadpole, demonstrating that a chemical hypothesis for amphibian deformities remains viable. Because exposure to nonpersistent chemicals may last for only a short period of time, it is important to examine the long-term effects that short-term exposure has on larval amphibians and the existence of any sensitive life stage. Any delay in metamorphosis or decrease in size at metamorphosis can impact demographic processes of the population, potentially leading to declines or local extinction.
Additional Publication Details
Long-term effects of pesticide exposure at various life stages of the southern leopard frog (Rana sphenocephala)
Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology