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Contrasting effects of nitrogenous pollution on fitness and swimming performance of Iberian waterfrog, Pelophylax perezi (Seoane, 1885), larvae in mesocosms and field enclosures

AuthorsEgea-Serrano, A.; Tejedo, Miguel
KeywordsNitrogenous pollution
Experimental venue
Inter-populational variation
Amphibian larvae
Swimming perfomance
Issue Date2014
CitationAquatic Toxicology, 146: 144-153 (2014)
AbstractAmphibians are declining worldwide and pollutants have been implicated as a major contributor to these declines. To understand these declines, many studies have assessed the impact of pollutants on amphibian behaviour. However, information regarding their effect on locomotor abilities, as well as the intra-specific variation of the tolerance to pollutants, is extremely rare. Further, the majority of studies examining the impact of pollutants on amphibians have been conducted in simplified laboratory settings. Given the complexity of natural systems, determining whether amphibian responses in laboratory studies can be generalized to more realistic natural scenarios is critical. Towards this goal, this study assessed the impact of nitrogenous pollution on survival and fitness-related larval traits (growth, mass and swimming performance) for three populations of the frog Pelophylax perezi, exposed to different degrees of eutrophication in two different and complementary experiments: (1) pond mesocosms, with NH4Cl isolated or combined with NaNO2 and NaNO3, and (2) field enclosures placed in natural streams differing in their degree of pollution. For both mesocosm and field enclosure experiments, larval mortality was unaffected by nitrogenous pollution. However, in the mesocosm experiment, exposure to nitrogenous compounds reduced final larvae mass and growth. In contrast, in the enclosure experiment, polluted locations facilitated final mass and growth of surviving tadpoles. Population-level variation in the effect of pollution was observed for final larval mass in the mesocosm but not in the field enclosure experiment. In addition, although nitrogenous compounds in both mesocosm and natural conditions had no direct effect on absolute larval swimming performance, they may impact the viability of larvae by affecting the relationships between growth and the swimming abilities. The differential pattern found in the impacts of nitrogenous compounds on larvae of P. perezi when raised in different experimental venues (mesocosms and field conditions) points to the convenience of considering more realistic natural scenarios in assessing the impact of pollutants on amphibians.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aquatox.2013.11.003
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