Behavioral Response and Kinetics of Terrestrial Atrazine Exposure in American Toads (Bufo americanus)

  • S. I. Storrs Méndez
  • D. E. Tillitt
  • T. A. G. Rittenhouse
  • R. D. Semlitsch


Amphibians in terrestrial environments obtain water through a highly vascularized pelvic patch of skin. Chemicals can also be exchanged across this patch. Atrazine (ATZ), a widespread herbicide, continues to be a concern among amphibian ecologists based on potential exposure and toxicity. Few studies have examined its impact on the terrestrial juvenile or adult stages of toads. In the current study, we asked the following questions: (1) Will juvenile American toads (Bufo americanus) avoid soils contaminated with ATZ? (2) Can they absorb ATZ across the pelvic patch? (3) If so, how is it distributed among the organs and eventually eliminated? We conducted a behavioral choice test between control soil and soil dosed with ecologically relevant concentrations of ATZ. In addition, we examined the uptake, distribution, and elimination of water dosed with 14C-labeled ATZ. Our data demonstrate that toads do not avoid ATZ-laden soils. ATZ crossed the pelvic patch rapidly and reached an apparent equilibrium within 5 h. The majority of the radiolabeled ATZ ended up in the intestines, whereas the greatest concentrations were observed in the gall bladder. Thus, exposure of adult life stages of amphibians through direct uptake of ATZ from soils and runoff water should be considered in risk evaluations.


Atrazine Gall Bladder Gosner Stage Exact Binomial Test American Toad 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank D. Nicks for help with dosage calculations and experimental setup. Thanks to D. Hardesty for the drill. Thank you to V. Velez and J. Zajieck for help with the counter. Thanks to L. Sullivan, B. Williams, and two anonymous reviewers for comments on the manuscript. Disclaimer: Any mention of trade names does not constitute government endorsement.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. I. Storrs Méndez
    • 1
  • D. E. Tillitt
    • 2
  • T. A. G. Rittenhouse
    • 1
  • R. D. Semlitsch
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Biological SciencesUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Columbia Environmental Research CenterUnited States Geological SurveyColumbiaUSA

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