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J Insect Physiol. 2008 Jan;54(1):41-50. Epub 2007 Aug 10.

Effects of zinc and female aging on nymphal life history in a grasshopper from polluted sites.

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Department of Animal Physiology and Ecotoxicology, University of Silesia, Bankowa 9, PL 40-007 Katowice, Poland.


Insect reproduction is influenced by various factors, including food quality and quantity, temperature, population density and female age. Contamination, including heavy metals, may disturb reproductive processes. The aim of this work was to assess interactions between effects of aging in female Chorthippus brunneus and environmental pollution on their reproduction measured in number of laid eggs. We also compared basic developmental parameters (number of hatchlings, body mass, embryonic developmental rate) in grasshopper nymphs additionally exposed to zinc during diapause. Aging grasshoppers from heavily polluted areas (Olkusz and Szopienice) lay significantly fewer eggs than insects from the reference site (Pilica). Zinc application caused the decrease in hatching success and duration of embryogenesis in insects from each site. This suggests a cumulative effect of female age, pollutants and additional stressing factors. The intensity of this process differed between populations. In insects from the reference site, it was shown in a moderate degree. In insects from Szopienice, an additional stressor exerted a weaker effect than in insects from Pilica. In grasshoppers from Olkusz, we found the strongest decrease of hatching percentage and increase in duration of embryogenesis after zinc intoxication. This may indicate that the population from Olkusz exists at the limit of its energetic abilities.

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