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Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2001 Apr;40(3):406-9.

Sensitivity to urea fertilization in three amphibian species.

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  • 1Estación Biológica de Doñana, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Apartado 1056, Sevilla E-41080, Spain. amarco@cica.es


Forest fertilization with granular urea is a well-established management practice in many forested regions of the world. We hypothesize that chemical forest fertilizers may be affecting forest-dwelling wildlife. In the laboratory, we studied the effects of fertilization doses of granular urea on three species of forest-dwelling amphibians (Plethodon vehiculum, Rhyacotriton variegatus, and Taricha granulosa). In avoidance experiments, the three species avoided a substrate treated with a dose of 225 kg N/ha urea. In toxicity experiments, we exposed amphibians to urea at doses of 225 kg N/ha and 450 kg N/ha for 4 days. The observed effects increased with time and dose, and there were significant differences in sensitivity among the species. Both treatment levels had an acute effect on survival of P. vehiculum and R. variegatus. At 24 h, mortality at the highest dose was 67% for P. vehiculum, and 47% for R. variegatus. In contrast, there was no mortality for T. granulosa at these concentrations. We suggest that environmental levels of urea could be affecting behavior and survival of some amphibians species in fertilized forests.

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