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Realistic levels of a fertilizer impair Iberian newt embryonic development

AuthorsOrtiz-Santaliestra, Manuel E. ; Marco, Adolfo ; Lizana, Miguel
Embryonic development
Environmental pollution
Hatching traits
Lissotriton boscai
Nitrogen fertilizers
Issue DateMar-2011
PublisherHerpetologists' League
CitationHerpetologica 67(1): 1–9 (2011)
AbstractA wide variety of agricultural chemicals with potential to affect amphibian health are released into the environment daily. Most of these chemicals are xenobiotic compounds that are highly toxic to embryos, tadpoles, and terrestrial stages. Other substances that occur in pristine environments at harmless concentrations, such as inorganic nitrogenous compounds, may reach potentially toxic levels as a consequence of certain human activities, including the application of fertilizers. Most of the studies that analyze the effects of inorganic nitrogen on amphibian embryos are conducted with anurans, whereas little information exists regarding urodeles. Embryos of newts and salamanders usually exhibit longer times to hatch than frogs and toads. A longer hatching time results in a longer exposure of embryos to diffuse environmental pollution and therefore a higher risk of suffering toxic effects during the embryonic stage. We demonstrate that ammonium nitrate, a widely used nitrogenous fertilizer, at concentrations used in areas of high agricultural intensity, affects embryonic development of the Iberian newt (Lissotriton boscai). Although ammonium nitrate did not have significant lethal effects, it reduced the growth rate of exposed embryos, which were 9.6% smaller than controls. Hatching synchrony remained similar across treatments, and hatching date was not affected by ammonium nitrate, indicating that the effect on growth was not time- dependent. Researchers have demonstrated fitness costs in smaller than average tadpoles, suggesting that ammonium nitrate exposure could have long-term negative consequences for the Iberian newt.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1655/HERPETOLOGICA-D-10-0001.1
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