, Volume 21, Issue 8, pp 2409–2418 | Cite as

Esfenvalerate toxicity to the cladoceran Ceriodaphnia dubia in the presence of green algae, Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata

  • Susanne M. BranderEmail author
  • Christopher M. Mosser
  • Juergen Geist
  • Michelle L. Hladik
  • Inge Werner


The presence of phytoplankton, like other particulate organic matter, can interfere with the effects of hydrophobic contaminants such as pyrethroid pesticides. However, the reduction or elimination of toxicity by algae added as food during testing is not taken into account in standard US EPA whole effluent toxicity (WET) zooplankton tests. On the other hand, WET test conditions may overestimate toxicity of such compounds in highly productive surface waters with high concentrations of detritus and other particulate matter. In addition, WET tests do not measure impaired swimming ability or predator avoidance behavior as an indicator of increased mortality risk. This study used a modified version of the US EPA WET Ceriodaphnia dubia acute test to investigate the effects of phytoplankton on toxicity of the pyrethroid insecticide, esfenvalerate. Animals were exposed simultaneously to different concentrations of esfenvalerate and green algae (Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata). Mortality and predation risk were recorded after 4 and 24 h. Algae at or below concentrations specified in the WET protocol significantly reduced mortality. Regardless, organisms exposed to esfenvalerate were unable to avoid simulated predation in the presence of algae at any concentration. After 12 h, esfenvalerate adsorbed to algae represented 68–99 % of the total amount recovered. The proportion of algae-bound insecticide increased with algal concentration indicating that conclusions drawn from toxicity tests in which algae are added as food must be interpreted with caution as the dissolved fraction of such hydrophobic contaminants is reduced. Additionally, our results strongly suggest that the EPA should consider adding ecologically-relevant endpoints such as swimming behavior to standard WET protocols.


US EPA WET testing Organic matter Pyrethroid Swimming ability Predator avoidance 



We would like to thank Linda Deanovic, Marie Stillway, and the staff of the UC Davis Aquatic Toxicology Laboratory, Davis, CA, for their assistance with exposure experiments, Dr. Peter Green, Tessa Fojut, and Harry Wu for their assistance with chemical analyses, and Dr. Will White for assistance with statistical analyses. We also are thankful for the helpful comments of four anonymous reviewers. This research was supported by the Interagency Ecological Program, Sacramento, California (Contract No. 4600004445 to I. Werner), Delta Science (Pre-Doctoral Fellowship R/SF-27 and Grant No. SCI-05-C111), and the National Science Foundation (GK-12 Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, Grant No. 0841297).

Conflict of interest


Supplementary material

10646_2012_996_MOESM1_ESM.docx (51 kb)
Table A.1. Concentrations of esfenvalerate measured in water incubated with high,mid, and low concentrations of algae for 12 hours. Isotopically labeled cis-permethrinwas used as the analytical recovery surrogate in water and from filter paper. Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 52 kb)
10646_2012_996_MOESM2_ESM.jpg (435 kb)
Figure A.1 Estimated concentrations of esfenvalerate, 1 and 6 ug/L treatments.Logistic regression was performed on log-transformed analytically confirmedconcentrations of esfenvalerate at three algal concentrations (see table A.1: 50,000;500,000; 2,000,000 cells/ml). Algal treatment concentrations for 1 and 6 ug/L treatmentswere input as the y value (5,000; 9,000; 260,000; 750,000; 1,250,000; 1,900,000; and3,100,000 cells/ml), and x (estimated esfenvalerate concentration: 1944, 1068, 35, 12, 7,5, 3 ng/L) was calculated. Supplementary material 2 (JPEG 436 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susanne M. Brander
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Christopher M. Mosser
    • 4
  • Juergen Geist
    • 5
  • Michelle L. Hladik
    • 6
  • Inge Werner
    • 7
    • 8
  1. 1.Department of Environmental ToxicologyUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biology and Marine BiologyUniversity of North CarolinaWilmingtonUSA
  3. 3.Bodega Marine LaboratoryUniversity of CaliforniaBodega BayUSA
  4. 4.Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  5. 5.Aquatic Systems Biology Unit, Department of Ecology and Ecosystem ManagementTechnische Universitaet MuenchenFreisingGermany
  6. 6.U.S. Geological SurveySacramentoUSA
  7. 7.Swiss Centre for Applied EcotoxicologyEawag/EPFLDuebendorfSwitzerland
  8. 8.Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Cell BiologySchool of Veterinary Medicine, University of CaliforniaDavisUSA

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