Carryover effects minimized the positive effects of treated wastewater on anuran development.
Constructed wetlands (CWs) are a potential solution for wastewater treatment due to their capacity to support native species and provide tertiary wastewater treatment. However, CWs can expose wildlife communities to excess nutrients and harmful contaminants, affecting their development, morphology, and behavior. To examine how wastewater CWs may affect wildlife, we raised Southern leopard frogs, Lithobates sphenocephalus, in wastewater from conventional secondary lagoon and tertiary CW treatments for comparison with pondwater along with the presence and absence of a common plant invader to these systems - common duckweed (Lemna minor) - and monitored their juvenile development for potential carryover effects into the terrestrial environment. The tertiary CW treatment did not change demographic or morphological outcomes relative to conventional wastewater treatment in our study. Individuals emerging from both wastewater treatments demonstrated lower terrestrial survival rates than those emerging from pondwater throughout the experiment though experiment-wide survival rates were equivalent among treatments. Individuals from wastewater treatments transformed at larger sizes relative to those in pondwater, but this advantage was minimized in the terrestrial environment. Individuals that developed with duckweed had consistent but marginally better performance in both environments. Our results suggest a potential trade-off between short-term benefits of development in treated effluent and long-term consequences on overall fitness. Overall, we demonstrate that CWs for the purpose of wastewater treatment may not be suitable replicates for wildlife habitat and could have consequences for local population dynamics.