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Responses of toad tadpoles to ammonium nitrate fertilizer and predatory stress: Differences between populations on a local scale



Agriculture-related pollution is among the major causes of global amphibian population declines. The multiple stressors to which amphibians are exposed in the field, such as predation pressure, can make agrochemicals far more deadly than when they act in isolation. Even within a small area, diffuse agricultural pollution does not affect all aquatic environments equally, which could account for local differences in amphibian sensitivity to agrochemicals. We examined the combined effects of ammonium nitrate fertilizer (0 to 45.2 mg N-NHmath image/L) and predator stress on larval Western spadefoot toad (Pelobates cultripes), using adult caged male marbled newts (Triturus marmoratus) as predators. We compared the interaction between both stressors in tadpoles from two ponds separated by 3 km. No significant mortality was observed (survival > 80% in all cases). Local differences were detected when analyzing larval growth, with a significant interaction between factors for one of the two populations tested (Fornillos de Fermoselle). Although tadpoles exposed to 45.2 mg N-NHmath image/L were 7% smaller than controls, the presence of predators from a foreign community resulted in animals 15% larger than those raised without predators after 15 d of experiment. Interestingly, predators from the same community as the tadpoles did not affect larval growth. The length of the tadpoles from a nearby location (Mámoles) was unaffected after exposure to ammonium nitrate and predatory stress. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2011; 30:1440–1446. © 2011 SETAC

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