Intensification of agriculture and the corresponding increase in herbicide use has led to concern regarding the effects these chemicals may have on nontarget plants of agroecosystems. Current pesticide registration guidelines are focused on testing crop species grown singly in pots under greenhouse conditions and may not provide adequate measures of protection to noncrop species. The objective of the present study was to compare the response of terrestrial and wetland plants to the herbicides glyphosate and atrazine when grown singly in pots versus under different microcosm conditions. Greenhouse microcosms were generally more sensitive than single-species tests. Plants grown for an extended test period or in seminatural field conditions were generally less sensitive to herbicides. Sensitivity was found to be dependent on interactions between species and test conditions. Changes in community structure were observed in herbicide-treated microcosms that would not be predicted from single-species testing. Single-species tests are useful because they are inexpensive, can demonstrate clear dose–response patterns uncomplicated by other factors influencing growth, and are able to provide a measure of the sensitivity of a given species to glyphosate and atrazine. However, they are unable to predict subtle changes in community structure that may have important long-term consequences. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2010;29:2304–2315. © 2010 SETAC
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