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Keywords:

  • Fluoroacetate;
  • Ecotoxicity;
  • Earthworm reproduction;
  • Plant growth;
  • Nitrate mineralization

Abstract

Sodium fluoroacetate (compound 1080) is applied as a vertebrate pesticide in New Zealand for control of introduced mammalian pests. Despite its widespread use, little is known about the soil ecotoxicity of 1080. Therefore, the hazard of 1080 to soil invertebrates, plants, and soil microorganisms was evaluated in a series of controlled laboratory tests. No earthworm (Eisenia fetida) mortality was reported with 1080 exposures up to 865 mg/kg soil. The lowest-observable-effect concentration and the median effect level for earthworm reproduction were 100 and 90 mg/kg soil, respectively, for cocoon production and 100 and 160 mg/kg soil, respectively, for juvenile production. Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) was more sensitive than oats (Avena sativa) to 1080. Lettuce seedling emergence and seedling shoot growth were adversely affected at a soil concentration of 7 mg/kg. The presence of 1080 in soil at concentrations up to 1 g/kg soil did not affect the ability of soil microorganisms to mineralize nitrogen. Furthermore, nitrate mineralization was not inhibited in soil treated with the urine of 1080-poisoned possums (Trichosurus vulpecula). The data collectively indicate that 1080-related effects on soil organisms occur at levels well above those that have been measured in soil (<0.1 mg/kg) following application of 1080 in baits for vertebrate pest control in New Zealand.