Effects of leachate from tree leaves and grass litter on tadpoles

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Tree species composition can change as a result of succession, climate change, fire suppression, and invasive species. These changes clearly affect forests, but they can also affect aquatic ecosystems based on differences in the input quality of leaf litter, such as plant secondary compounds. These compounds vary in type and concentration depending on species and can be toxic to aquatic organisms. To examine toxic effects on Pseudacris maculata and Pseudacris crucifer tadpoles, we conducted 60‐d laboratory experiments to compare leaf litter leachate from a dominant canopy species (red oak) and nonnative species (white pine) with an aquatic grass (prairie cordgrass) and plain water control. An additional experiment examined the effects of white pine on Bufo americanus, Hyla versicolor, and tannin concentrations in natural ponds. Compared with the control and grass, tree leaf extracts resulted in reduced tadpole survival. Leached compounds from pine reduced tadpole survival to 3 d or less. Tadpoles were able to metamorphose in significant numbers only from the two controls. The lowered survival with the red oak treatment might have been caused by lowered dissolved oxygen or high tannin concentrations. However, pine is known to have high concentrations of toxic monoterpenes, which should be investigated further. We found that tannin concentrations in natural ponds were much lower than the test concentrations, indicating that these results may represent worst‐case scenarios or unrealistic concentrations. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. © 2012 SETAC

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