Tadpole swimming performance and activity affected by acute exposure to sublethal levels of carbaryl


  • Christine M. Bridges

    Corresponding author
    1. U.S. Geological Survey, Midwest Science Center, 4200 New Haven Road Columbia, Missouri 65201
    • Division of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri–Columbia Columbia, Missouri 65211, USA
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General activity and swimming performance (i.e., sprint speed and distance) of plains leopard frog tadpoles (Rana blairi) were examined after acute exposure to three sublethal concentrations of carbaryl (3.5, 5.0, and 7.2 mg/L). Both swimming performance and spontaneous swimming activity are important for carrying out life history functions (e.g., growth and development) and for escaping from predators. Measured tadpole activity diminished by nearly 90% at 3.5 mg/L carbaryl and completely ceased at 7.2 mg/L. Sprint speed and sprint distance also decreased significantly following exposure. Carbaryl affected both swimming performance and activity after just 24 h, suggesting that 24 h may be an adequate length of exposure to determine behavioral effects on tadpoles. Slight recovery of activity levels was noted at 24 and 48 h post-exposure; no recovery of swimming performance was observed. Reduction in activity and swimming performance may result in increased predation rates and, because activity is closely associated with feeding, may result in slowed growth leading to a failure to emerge before pond drying or an indirect reduction in adult fitness. Acute exposure to sublethal toxicants such as carbaryl may not only affect immediate survival of tadpoles but also impact critical life history functions and generate changes at the local population level.