Potential of 11 Pesticides to Initiate Downstream Drift of Stream Macroinvertebrates

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Downstream drift of lotic macroinvertebrates induced by toxicants is a well-known ecologically relevant phenomenon. However, little is known about which toxicants can initiate drift, and potential drift-initiating effects of contaminants are not taken into account in ecotoxicological risk assessment. The aim of the present study was to evaluate potential drift-initiating action of 11 pesticides having different target groups and modes of action. Sublethal concentrations of the pesticides were tested in stream microcosms with amphipods (Gammarus pulex), blackfly larvae (Simulium latigonium), and mayfly larvae (Baetis rhodani). The results show that 6 out of 11 pesticides tested can initiate drift of macroinvertebrates at sublethal concentrations 7–22 times lower than acute LC50s (thiacloprid, imidacloprid, acetamiprid, iprodione, fenvalerate, and indoxacarb). All the toxicants that exhibited drift-initiating action are neurotoxic insecticides belonging to the groups of pyrethroids and neonicotinoids except the fungicide iprodione. The pesticides that did not initiate drift are fungicides (cyprodinil, prochloraz, and azoxystrobin), a juvenile-hormone mimic (fenoxycarb), and a pyrazole insecticide (tebufenpyrad) affecting cell energy production. Remarkably, for all the drift-initiating toxicants, drift of the tested animals was detected within 2 h after contamination. This shows that macroinvertebrate drift can be induced even by short-term pulse exposures to neurotoxic insecticides, at field-relevant concentrations. The present results imply that the possibility of drift-initiating effects of pesticides should be considered within the risk assessment framework for pesticides, as all neurotoxic substances that were investigated did initiate drift at sublethal concentrations.