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Environ Pollut. 2001;112(1):1-10.

Pesticide effects on freshwater zooplankton: an ecological perspective.

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Suwa Hydrobiological Station, Shinshu University, 5-2-4 Kogandori, Suwa 392-0027, Japan.


The effects of pesticides on zooplankton are reviewed and their ecological significance is discussed. Toxicity is shown to vary depending on animal species, genotype, life stage, and size at birth. Natural stresses such as food shortage, oxygen depletion and odors of potential predators can also affect toxicity. Populations in the growth phase are vulnerable to pesticides but have the potential to recover rapidly from the damage. Pesticides may affect the population dynamics by controlling individual survival and reproduction, and by altering the sex ratio. Furthermore, toxic chemicals may control predation risk by changing swimming behavior and body morphology, and this in turn influences the population dynamics. Many zooplankton display morphological and behavioral responses to predators when exposed to their odor-producing chemicals. However, pesticides induce a maladaptive response to predator odor, and this poses an ecological risk. The following patterns are recognized as effects of pesticides at the community and ecosystem levels: (1) induction of dominance by small species; (2) an increase of species richness and diversity; and (3) elongation of the food chain and reduction of energy transfer efficiency from primary producers to top predators.

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