Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

The herbicide atrazine induces hyperactivity and compromises tadpole detection of predator chemical cues.

Abstract

The ability to detect chemical cues is often critical for freshwater organisms to avoid predation and find food and mates. In particular, reduced activity and avoidance of chemical cues signaling predation risk are generally adaptive behaviors that reduce prey encounter rates with predators. The present study examined the effects of the common herbicide atrazine on the ability of Cuban tree frog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) tadpoles to detect and respond to chemical cues from larval dragonfly (Libellulidae sp.) predators. Tadpoles exposed to an estimated environmental concentration of atrazine (calculated using US Environmental Protection Agency software; measured concentration, 178 µg/L) were significantly hyperactive relative to those exposed to solvent control. In addition, control tadpoles significantly avoided predator chemical cues, but tadpoles exposed to atrazine did not. These results are consistent with previous studies that have demonstrated that ecologically relevant concentrations of atrazine can induce hyperactivity and impair the olfactory abilities of other freshwater vertebrates. The authors call for additional studies examining the role of chemical contaminants in disrupting chemical communication and the quantification of subsequent impacts on the fitness and population dynamics of wildlife.