, Volume 154, Issue 1, pp 219–226 | Cite as

Pesticide alters oviposition site selection in gray treefrogs

Global Change and Conservation Ecology


Understanding the impacts of pesticides on non-target organisms is an important issue for conservation biology. Research into the environmental consequences of pesticides has largely focused on pesticide toxicity. We have less understanding of the nonlethal effects of pesticides, and the consequences of nonlethal effects for species and communities. For example, we know very little about whether pesticides alter habitat selection behavior. Understanding whether pesticides alter habitat selection is important because pesticide-induced shifts in habitat selection could either magnify or reduce the toxic effects of contaminants by funneling organisms into or directing them away from contaminated sites. Here we present four field experiments that examine the effect of the commercial pesticide Sevin® and its active ingredient, carbaryl, on oviposition site selection by the gray treefrog (Hylachrysoscelis). Our results show that uncontaminated pools consistently received 2–3 times more eggs than contaminated pools; that treefrogs appeared to respond to Sevin® directly, not indirectly via its effects on the aquatic food web, and that this preference persisted across a range of temporal and spatial scales. Both Sevin® and carbaryl per se reduced oviposition, while other volatile chemicals (e.g., our solvent control, acetone) had no effect. These findings suggest that in order to understanding the consequences of contaminants in aquatic systems we will need to consider not only toxicity, but also how contaminant effects on habitat selection alter the way organisms distribute themselves in the environment.


Amphibian decline Anuran Carbaryl Habitat selection Hyla Insecticide 



Thanks to S. Gallitano, T. Giarla, S. Rosenberg, R. Shulman, M. Sobotka, and for assisting in experiments; M. Boone and R. Semlitsch for sharing original data; B. Allen, L. Blaustein, J. Chase, P. Crumrine, T. Knight, A. Randle, W. Resetarits, J. Rohr, W. Ryberg, T. Steury, and R. Shulman for discussions that helped shape this research and/or for providing comments on the manuscript; and the staff at Tyson Research Center for logistical support. This research was funded by HHMI/SURF and Crescent Hills Research Fund support to JCB and a Tyson Research Center, Washington University in St. Louis postdoctoral fellowship to JRV. Research was conducted according to Washington University IACUC/EH&S protocol # 20050173.

Supplementary material

442_2007_811_MOESM1_ESM.doc (171 kb)
Fig. S1A–D Arial view of Tyson Research Center illustrating spatial layout of Experiments 1–4. A Overview of Tyson hollow with small circles indicating approximate placement of pools in Experiment 3. Location of real ponds is also indicated (P). Experimental pools were isolated from each other and other ponds by a minimum of 100 m. B Overview of laboratory building and ponds (P) showing placement of five blocks of experimental pools (Exp. 1: blocks 1–5; Exp. 2: blocks 2–3; Exp. 4: blocks 1–3). Each block included an equal number of pools, although the number per block varied among experiments. C Close-up of block 4 during Experiment 1 showing pools and predator enclosures. D Pair of gray treefrogs in amplexus with eggs in an experimental pool (DOC 171 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tyson Research CenterWashington University in Saint LouisSt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyVirginia Commonwealth UnivesityRichmondUSA

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