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Pesticides are underestimated as a driver of amphibian population decline

Dec 02, 2013

 

Photo Credit:  Richard Bartz

Photo Credit: Richard Bartz

A recent article published in Scientific Reports details the harmful effects that agricultural pesticides can have on amphibians. Amphibians such as frogs and newts are experiencing declining populations around the world. One of the causes for this decline is exposure to chemicals such as pesticides used on conventional farms. Unfortunately, the exact health effects these pesticides have on different amphibian life stages are still not well understood. To address these issues, researchers in Germany examined how seven pesticides affected juvenile European common frogs. When they modeled agricultural spray scenarios using the recommended application rates for the pesticides, they found that frogs experienced high mortality, ranging from 100 percent after one hour to 40 percent after seven days. Concluding that pesticides may have a large-scale negative effect on amphibian health, they stated, “Terrestrial pesticide exposure might be underestimated as a driver of their decline.”  The researchers called for more attention to this issue in conservation efforts, and pointed out that risk assessment procedures in place do not protect this vanishing animal group.

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