Amphibian population declines are not limited to overtly degraded habitats, but often occur in relatively pristine environments such as national parks or wildlife refuges, thus forcing biologists to examine less obvious causes for declines such as the presence of contaminants. The objective of our study was to extract naturally-occurring compounds from amphibian habitats (using semipermeable membrane devices) in three national parks or wildlife refuges (two sites within Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park, Big Bend National Park, and Kenai National Wildlife Refuge), and assess their toxicity to developing larvae using bioassays. Extracts did not cause mortality, so all effects observed were sublethal, influencing life history characteristics. In all three areas studied, amphibians reared in extracts from at least one of the two sites exhibited either a lengthened larval period or reduced mass at metamorphosis. Extracts from both the air and water at one site in Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park lengthened the larval period, which is in agreement with studies showing elevated levels of aerially transported contaminants at sites such as this within the park. Ultraviolet radiation, which is also suspected of having caused amphibian declines and was included as a factor in our study, did not act alone or alter the toxicity of the extracts. ?? ISSCA 2005.
Additional publication details
Toxicity to amphibians of environmental extracts from natural waters in National Parks and Fish and Wildlife Refuges