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Physiological Stress Responses in Amphibian Larvae to Multiple Stressors Reveal Marked Anthropogenic Effects even below Lethal Levels

AuthorsBurraco, Pablo ; Gómez-Mestre, Iván
KeywordsImmune system
Metabolic rate
Oxidative Stress
Stress physiology
Issue Date2016
PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press
CitationPhysiological and Biochemical Zoology 89: 462- 472 (2016)
AbstractNatural and anthropogenic disturbances cause profound alterations in organisms, inducing physiological adjustments to avoid, reduce, or remedy the impact of disturbances. In vertebrates, the stress response is regulated via neuroendocrine pathways, including the hypothalamic-pituitary-interrenal axis that regulates the secretion of glucocorticoids. Glucocorticoids have cascading effects on multiple physiological pathways, affecting the metabolic rate, reactive oxygen species production, or immune system. Determining the extent to which natural and anthropogenic environmental factors induce stress responses in vertebrates is of great importance in ecology and conservation biology. Here we study the physiological stress response in spadefoot toad tadpoles (Pelobates cultripes) against three levels of a series of natural and anthropogenic stressors common to many aquatic systems: salinity (0, 6, and 9 ppt), herbicide (0, 1, and 2 mg/L acid equivalent of glyphosate), water acidity (pH 4.5, 7.0, and 9.5), predators (absent, native, and invasive), and temperature (217, 257, and 29 degrees C). The physiological stress response was assessed examining corticosterone levels, standard metabolic rate, activity of antioxidant enzymes, oxidative cellular damage in lipids, and immunological status. We found that common stressors substantially altered the physiological state of tadpoles. In particular, salinity and herbicides cause dramatic physiological changes in tadpoles. Moreover, tadpoles reduced corticosterone levels in the presence of natural predators but did not do so against invasive predators, indicating a lack of innate recognition. Corticosterone and the antioxidant enzyme glutathione reductase were the most sensitive parameters to stress in this study. Anthropogenic perturbations of aquatic systems pose serious threats to larval amphibians even at nonlethal concentrations, judging from the marked physiological stress responses generated, and reveal the importance of incorporating physiological information onto conservation, ecological, and evolutionary studies.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1086/688737
issn: 1522-2152
Appears in Collections:(EBD) Artículos
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