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Liège, Belgium

Denoel M.,Behavioural Biology Unit | D'Hooghe B.,Behavioural Biology Unit | Ficetola G.F.,University of Milan Bicocca | Brasseur C.,Center for Analytical Research and Technology | And 3 more authors.
Ecotoxicology | Year: 2012

Pesticides and other chemicals often have detrimental effects at environmental concentrations. Many amphibian species are particularly threatened because of their susceptibility but also because wetlands are often polluted. Behavioral assessments of toxicity have the advantage of showing sublethal effects but quantitative measures at varied scales of integrations are rarely considered together. In this study, we aimed at showing that these behavioral endpoints could be differently affected across time and concentrations, and be biomarkers of toxicity. To this end, we tested the effects of an organochlorine pesticide (endosulfan) on amphibians during a standard 96 h test. We evaluated possible lag effects in continuing the analyses after removal of the pesticide. The study was based on 240 tadpoles (4 pesticide treatments: 0.4, 3, 22, and 282 μg/l, 1 control and 1 solvent-control). Abnormal behaviors such as lying and swirling rapidly were exhibited only in the presence of the pesticide. Essential functions such as breathing and feeding were deeply affected by the pesticide: contaminated tadpoles breathed and fed less than control tadpoles. They also moved less and occupied a more central position in the aquariums in the presence of the pesticide. A higher mortality was only found at the highest concentration. These results suggest that endosulfan is toxic to amphibians at environmental concentrations. Behavioral markers showed potential as early warning systems. They should thus be used in complement to other markers to detect sublethal effects only a few days after application of the pesticide and at concentrations where mortality does not occur. © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012. Source


Denoel M.,Behavioural Biology Unit | Bichot M.,Behavioural Biology Unit | Ficetola G.F.,University of Milan Bicocca | Delcourt J.,Behavioural Biology Unit | And 3 more authors.
Aquatic Toxicology | Year: 2010

Despite growing evidence of the detrimental effect of chemical substances on organisms, limited research has focused on changes in behavioral patterns, in part due to the difficulties to obtain detailed quantitative data. Recent developments in efficient computer-based video analyses have allowed testing pesticide effects on model species such as the zebrafish. However, these new techniques have not yet been applied to amphibians and directly to conservation issues, i.e., to assess toxicological risks on threatened species. We used video-tracking analyses to test a quantitative effect of an environmental contaminant on the locomotion of amphibian tadpoles (Rana temporaria) by taking into account cumulative effects. Because recent research has demonstrated effects of de-icing salts on survival and community structure, we used sodium chloride in our experimental design (25 replicates, 4 concentrations, 4 times) to test for an effect at the scale of behavior at environmentally relevant concentrations. Analysis of 372 1-h video-tracks (5 samples/s) showed a complex action of salts on behavioral patterns with a dose and cumulative response over time. Although no effects were found on mortality or growth, the highest salt concentrations reduced the speed and movement of tadpoles in comparison with control treatments. The reduced locomotor performance could have detrimental consequences in terms of tadpoles' responses to competition and predation and may be an indicator of the low concentration effect of the contaminant. On one hand, this study demonstrates the usefulness of examining behavior to address conservation issues and understand the complex action of environmental factors and, more particularly, pollutants on organisms. On the other hand, our results highlight the need of new computerized techniques to quantitatively analyze these patterns. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. Source

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