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PLoS One. 2013 Jun 27;8(6):e67817. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067817. Print 2013.

Trophic Transfer of Arsenic from an Aquatic Insect to Terrestrial Insect Predators.

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  • 1Department of Entomology, University of California Riverside, Riverside, California, United States of America.


The movement of energy and nutrients from aquatic to terrestrial ecosystems can be substantial, and emergent aquatic insects can serve as biovectors not only for nutrients, but also for contaminants present in the aquatic environment. The terrestrial predators Tenodera aridifolia sinensis (Mantodea: Mantidae) and Tidarren haemorrhoidale (Araneae: Theridiidae) and the aquatic predator Buenoa scimitra (Hemiptera: Notonectidae) were chosen to evaluate the efficacy of arsenic transfer between aquatic and terrestrial environments. Culex tarsalis larvae were reared in either control water or water containing 1000 µg l(-1) arsenic. Adults that emerged from the control and arsenic treatments were fed to the terrestrial predators, and fourth instar larvae were fed to the aquatic predator reared in control or arsenic contaminated water. Tenodera a. sinensis fed arsenic-treated Cx. tarsalis accumulated 658±130 ng g(-1) of arsenic. There was no significant difference between control and arsenic-fed T. haemorrhoidale (range 142-290 ng g(-1)). Buenoa scimitra accumulated 5120±406 ng g(-1) of arsenic when exposed to arsenic-fed Cx. tarsalis and reared in water containing 1000 µg l(-1) arsenic. There was no significant difference between controls or arsenic-fed B. scimitra that were not exposed to water-borne arsenic, indicating that for this species environmental exposure was more important in accumulation than strictly dietary arsenic. These results indicate that transfer to terrestrial predators may play an important role in arsenic cycling, which would be particularly true during periods of mass emergence of potential insect biovectors. Trophic transfer within the aquatic environment may still occur with secondary predation, or in predators with different feeding strategies.

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