Competition and pesticide exposure affect development of invasive (Rhinella marina) and native (Fejervarya vittigera) rice paddy amphibian larvae
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Increased pesticide use in rice agricultural ecosystems may alter competitive interactions between invasive and native amphibian species. We conducted an experiment with two rice paddy amphibians found in Luzon, Philippines, the invasive cane toad (Rhinella marina) and the endemic Luzon wart frog (Fejervarya vittigera), to determine whether exposure to a common herbicide, butachlor, drives competitive interactions in favor of the invasive amphibian. Our results revealed that competition had a strong effect on the development of both species, but in opposing directions; Luzon wart frog tadpoles were smaller and developed slower than when raised alone, whereas cane toad tadpoles were larger and developed faster. Contrary to our predictions, development and survival of endemic wart frog tadpoles was not affected by butachlor, whereas invasive cane toad tadpoles were affected across several endpoints including gene expression, body size, and survival. We also observed an interaction between pesticide exposure and competition for the cane toad, where survival declined but body size and expression of thyroid sensitive genes increased. Taken together, our findings indicate that the success of the cane toad larvae in rice fields may be best explained by increased rates of development and larger body sizes of tadpoles in response to competition with native Luzon wart frog tadpoles rather than lower sensitivity to a common pesticide. Our results for the cane toad also provide evidence that butachlor can disrupt thyroid hormone mediated development in amphibians, and further demonstrate that important species interactions such as competition can be affected by pesticide exposure in aquatic ecosystems.
KeywordsButachlor Cane Toad Endocrine Disruption Luzon Wart Frog Southeast Asia Thyroid
We thank Frank von Hippel and Rachel Rubin for their editorial support. We are grateful to Linsey Benally, Alexander McCain, Renee Lorica, and Calsey Richardson for their assistance in field and laboratory data collection. We thank the anonymous reviewers who helped to improve the manuscript. Funding was provided by the Merriam Powell Center for Environmental Research’s Integrative Graduate Education, Research, and Traineeship Program (IGERT) Fellowship, the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation, the Closing Rice Yield Gaps in Asia with a Reduced Environmental Footprint (CORIGAP) funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the NIH, Award Number T37MD008626 to CRP, and the National Cancer Institute of the NIH award for the Partnership of Native American Cancer Prevention U54CA143925 to Northern Arizona University.
M.S.G., G.S., and C.R.P. conceived and designed the study. M.S.G. executed the study, analyzed the data, and wrote the manuscript. G.S. and C.R.P. contributed significant editorial guidance on the manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests associated with this study, and that all applicable institutional and/or national guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed and approved by Northern Arizona’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).
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