Interaction of an insecticide with larval density in pond-breeding salamanders (Ambystoma)

Brian S. Metts, William A. Hopkins, John P. Nestor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


1. Amphibian populations residing in or near agricultural areas are often susceptible to pesticide contamination. Recent evidence suggests that the effects of pesticides on amphibians often exceed those estimated in laboratory toxicity tests because other environmental factors (e.g. predators, resource abundance) can influence pesticide toxicity. 2. To examine the effects of an insecticide (carbaryl) on two species of Ambystoma salamanders experiencing the natural stress of competition, we manipulated chemical concentration (control, 3.5 and 7.0 mg L-1) and larval density (low and high). We determined the effect of treatments on snout-vent length (SVL), growth rate, lipid reserves, time to metamorphosis, per cent survival and per cent metamorphosis. 3. Carbaryl negatively affected all response variables of Ambystoma maculatum significantly, and significantly reduced survival and metamorphosis of A. opacum. Increased density significantly influenced SVL, lipid reserves, growth rate and metamorphosis of A. maculatum. 4. The effects of carbaryl and increased density on per cent metamorphosis were nearly additive, but were generally less than additive on other variables. 5. The negative effects of chemical contamination on salamanders were likely because of pesticide-induced reductions of food resources, as zooplankton abundance decreased by as much as 97% following carbaryl application. 6. Our study demonstrates the importance of the interactive effects that chemical contamination and natural environmental factors have on salamanders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)685-696
Number of pages12
JournalFreshwater Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2005


  • Ambystoma maculatum
  • Ambystoma opacum
  • Carbaryl
  • Density
  • Insecticide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science


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