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Environ Toxicol Chem. 2001 Oct;20(10):2328-35.

Juvenile amphibians do not avoid potentially lethal levels of urea on soil substrate.

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1
Zoology Department, Oregon State University, Corvallis 97331, USA. hatcha@bcc.orst.edu

Abstract

We examined the effects of a forest fertilizer (urea) on newly metamorphosed terrestrial amphibians (Western toads, Bufo boreas; Cascades frogs, Rana cascadae; long-toed salamanders, Ambystoma macrodactylum; and roughskin newts, Taricha granulosa). We examined avoidance behavior of Western toads and Cascades frogs on both paper towel and soil substrates dosed with urea (control and 100 kg N/ha and an additional treatment of 50 kg N/ha for Western toads on soil substrate) and avoidance behavior of long-toed salamanders on soil substrate dosed with urea. We further examined the survival and feeding behavior of all four species exposed to urea on soil substrate (100 kg N/ha) for 5 d. Juvenile Western toads and Cascades frogs avoided paper towels dosed with urea but did not avoid urea-dosed soil substrate. However, Western toads and Cascades frogs both suffered significant mortality when exposed to urea on a soil substrate for 5 d. Furthermore, after adjusting for weight, we found that urea-exposed juvenile Western toads and Cascades frogs consumed significantly fewer prey items (crickets) compared with nonexposed control animals. Long-toed salamanders did not discriminate against soil substrate dosed with urea, and neither long-toed salamanders nor roughskin newts died or reduced prey consumption as a result of urea exposure. Juvenile amphibians may not be able to detect and avoid harmful levels of urea fertilizer on a natural substrate. Furthermore, anthropogenic stressors such as urea fertilizer can significantly reduce the survival and prey consumption of juvenile amphibians. These effects are important to consider in light of possible threats to the conservation status of many amphibian species.

PMID:
11596767
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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