, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 540–552 | Cite as

Mosquito control pesticides and sea surface temperatures have differential effects on the survival and oxidative stress response of coral larvae

  • Cliff RossEmail author
  • Kevin Olsen
  • Michael Henry
  • Richard Pierce


The declining health of coral reefs is intensifying worldwide at an alarming rate due to the combined effects of land-based sources of pollution and climate change. Despite the persistent use of mosquito control pesticides in populated coastal areas, studies examining the survival and physiological impacts of early life-history stages of non-targeted marine organisms are limited. In order to better understand the combined effects of mosquito pesticides and rising sea surface temperatures, we exposed larvae from the coral Porites astreoides to selected concentrations of two major mosquito pesticide ingredients, naled and permethrin, and seawater elevated +3.5 °C. Following 18–20 h of exposure, larvae exposed to naled concentrations of 2.96 µg L−1 or greater had significantly reduced survivorship compared to controls. These effects were not detected in the presence of permethrin or elevated temperature. Furthermore, larval settlement, post-settlement survival and zooxanthellae density were not impacted by any treatment. To evaluate the sub-lethal stress response of larvae, several oxidative stress endpoints were utilized. Biomarker responses to pesticide exposure were variable and contingent upon pesticide type as well as the specific biomarker being employed. In some cases, such as with protein carbonylation and catalase gene expression, the effects of naled exposure and temperature were interactive. In other cases pesticide exposure failed to induce any sub-lethal stress response. Overall, these results demonstrate that P. astreoides larvae have a moderate degree of resistance against short-term exposure to ecologically relevant concentrations of pesticides even in the presence of elevated temperature. In addition, this work highlights the importance of considering the complexity and differential responses encountered when examining the impacts of combined stressors that occur on varying spatial scales.


Coral Elevated temperature Florida keys Mosquito pesticide Oxidative stress Porites astreoides 



We thank Amanda Andersen, Chelsea Metzgar, Paige Duffin and Rhian Smith from UNF for assistance with larval collection, counting and laboratory experiments. We also thank Erich Bartels and Kim Ritchie of Mote Marine Laboratory and Valerie Paul of the Smithsonian Marine Station with field assistance. In addition, we thank Patricia Blum of Mote for pesticide sample processing and analyses. This work was supported by grant # 13062 from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s program, Florida’s Wildlife Legacy Initiative, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s State Wildlife Grants program awarded to CR and RP. This work was conducted under permit no. FKNMS-2013-011 issued by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. This is contribution #977 of the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cliff Ross
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kevin Olsen
    • 2
  • Michael Henry
    • 3
  • Richard Pierce
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of North FloridaJacksonvilleUSA
  2. 2.Smithsonian Marine StationFt. PierceUSA
  3. 3.Mote Marine LaboratorySarasotaUSA

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