Analyzing effects of pesticides on invertebrate communities in streams



The aim of this investigation was to find patterns in aquatic invertebrate community composition that are related to the effects of pesticides. Investigations were carried out in 20 central European streams. To reduce the site-specific variation of community descriptors due to environmental factors other than pesticides, species were classified and grouped according to their vulnerability to pesticides. They were classified as species at risk (SPEAR) and species not at risk (SPEnotAR). Ecological traits used to define these groups were sensitivity to toxicants, generation time, migration ability, and presence of aquatic stages during time of maximum pesticide application. Results showed that measured pesticide concentrations of 1 : 10 of the acute 48-h median lethal concentration (LC50) of Daphnia magna led to a short- and long-term reduction of abundance and number of SPEAR and a corresponding increase in SPEnotAR. Concentrations of 1 : 100 of the acute 48-h LC50 of D. magna correlated with a long-term change of community composition. However, number and abundance of SPEAR in disturbed stream sections are increased greatly when undisturbed stream sections are present in upstream reaches. This positive influence compensated for the negative effect of high concentrations of pesticides through recolonization. The results emphasize the importance of considering ecological traits and recolonization processes on the landscape level for ecotoxicological risk assessment.