John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Ranking ecological risks of multiple chemical stressors on amphibians

Populations of amphibians have been declining worldwide since the late 1960s. Despite global concern, no studies have quantitatively assessed the major causes of this decline. In the present study, species sensitivity distributions (SSDs) were developed to analyze the sensitivity of anurans for ammonium, nitrate, heavy metals (cadmium, copper), pesticides (18 compounds), and acidification (pH) based on laboratory toxicity data. Ecological risk (ER) was calculated as the probability that a measured environmental concentration of a particular stressor in habitats where anurans were observed would exceed the toxic effect concentrations derived from the species sensitivity distributions. The assessment of ER was used to rank the stressors according to their potential risk to anurans based on a case study of Dutch freshwater bodies. The derived ERs revealed that threats to populations of anurans decreased in the sequence of pH, copper, diazinon, ammonium, and endosulfan. Other stressors studied were of minor importance. The method of deriving ER by combining field observation data and laboratory data provides insight into potential threats to species in their habitats and can be used to prioritize stressors, which is necessary to achieve effective management in amphibian conservation. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. © 2012 SETAC

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