Environmental factors, in particular temperature, have been shown to affect the toxicity of chemicals. In the present study the authors exposed the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to five concentrations of Cd (2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 mg Cd/L agar) at four constant temperatures (11, 15, 18, and 21°C) and monitored survival and reproduction on a daily basis. Data were incorporated in a population matrix model to determine the population growth rate (PGR). An additional experiment at 15 and 20°C and 0, 1, 5, and 10 mg Cd/L was performed to include growth measurements in order to relate changes in reproduction to resource allocations between investments in growth and reproduction. The impacts of Cd on PGR increased with increasing temperature, shifting the median effective concentration (EC50) for PGR from 11.6 ± 5.4 and 9.2 ± 1.3 at 11°C and 15°C, to 2.1 ± 0.1 and 1.7 ± 0.4 at 18°C and 21°C. Cadmium and temperature decreased growth rates, but Cd also increased maturation times and decreased final body size. It is hypothesized that Cd toxicity leads to a decrease in nutrient assimilation and that this “chemical anorexia” is more severe at high temperatures, where energy demands for growth and reproduction are the highest. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2012;31:787–793. © 2012 SETAC
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