John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Copper and nickel effects on survival and growth of Northern Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens) tadpoles in field‐collected smelting effluent water

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Trace metals can have subtle, yet chronic impacts on organisms by inducing physiological stress that reduces their survival or impedes their ability to tolerate additional environmental stressors. However, toxicity literature indicates that aquatic organisms react differently to trace metals depending on the environments in which they reside. The objective was to understand the response of Northern Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens) larvae to ionic copper, nickel and their combination within an effluent water collected downstream of a tailings wetland area. Tadpoles were randomly assigned to one of 8 copper concentrations (8‐200 µg/L), 7 nickel concentrations (160‐1200 µg/L), or 8 copper/nickel combined concentrations (8/160‐200/1200 µg/L) and showed significant differences in survival and life history traits among treatments. In copper and copper/nickel combined treatments, tadpole survival decreased with increased copper exposure starting at [Cu] = 160 µg/L and in the nickel treatment, tadpole survival decreased with increased nickel exposure starting at [Ni] = 650 µg/L. All copper‐exposed treatments induced a growth increase as the concentration increased while tadpoles showed a significant decrease in growth rate in nickel treatments. These contrasting outcomes suggest a plastic response to trace metals whereby tadpoles allocate energy reserves towards either escaping or coping with stress. Finally, we argue that future studies will benefit from examining the impacts of multiple stressors in aquatic ecosystems if we are to provide better environmental mitigation. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved

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