Amphibian larvae at contaminated sites may experience an alteration of metamorphic traits and survival compared to amphibians in uncontaminated conditions. Effects of chronic cadmium (Cd) exposure on the metamorphosis of American toads (Bufo americanus) and southern leopard frogs (Rana sphenocephala) were determined. The two species were reared separately from shortly after hatching through metamorphosis in outdoor mesocosms (1,325-L polyethylene cattle tanks) that simulated natural ponds and enhanced environmental realism relative to the laboratory. Both species exhibited a decrease in survival with increasing initial nominal aqueous Cd concentration. Cadmium treatment did not influence mass at metamorphosis for either species when survival was included as a covariate, but increased the age at metamorphosis for the American toads. The whole body Cd content of metamorphs increased with aqueous Cd treatment level for both species, and the American toads tended to possess more elevated residues. Cadmium quickly partitioned out of the water column and accumulated in and altered the abundance of the tadpoles' diet. Cadmium-contaminated sites may produce fewer metamorphs, and those that survive will metamorphose later and contain Cd. Interspecific differences in the response variables illustrate the importance of testing multiple species when assessing risk. ?? 2005 SETAC.
Additional publication details
Metamorphosis of two amphibian species after chronic cadmium exposure in outdoor aquatic mesocosms