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Sci Rep. 2015 Sep 9;5:13912. doi: 10.1038/srep13912.

Low doses of ivermectin cause sensory and locomotor disorders in dung beetles.

Author information

I.U.I. CIBIO, Universidad de Alicante, Alicante E-03080, Spain.
Departamento de Química Inorgánica y Química Orgánica. Universidad de Jaén, Campus Las Lagunillas, Jaén E-23071, Spain.
Departamento de Enfermería, Universidad de Alicante, Alicante E-03080, Spain.
Departamento de Fisiología, Genética y Microbiología. Universidad de Alicante, Alicante E-03080, Spain.
UMR 5175 CEFE, CNRS - Université de Montpellier - Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier - EPHE, Université Paul-Valéry Laboratoire Zoogéographie, route de Mende, 34199 Montpellier cedex 5, France.
Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales-CSIC, Departamento de Biogeografía y Cambio Global. José Abascal 2, Madrid E-28006, Spain.
IUCN-Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation. Marie Curie 22, Campanillas, Málaga E-29590, Spain.
Departamento de Zoología, Universidad de Granada, Granada E-18071, Spain.


Ivermectin is a veterinary pharmaceutical generally used to control the ecto- and endoparasites of livestock, but its use has resulted in adverse effects on coprophilous insects, causing population decline and biodiversity loss. There is currently no information regarding the direct effects of ivermectin on dung beetle physiology and behaviour. Here, based on electroantennography and spontaneous muscle force tests, we show sub-lethal disorders caused by ivermectin in sensory and locomotor systems of Scarabaeus cicatricosus, a key dung beetle species in Mediterranean ecosystems. Our findings show that ivermectin decreases the olfactory and locomotor capacity of dung beetles, preventing them from performing basic biological activities. These effects are observed at concentrations lower than those usually measured in the dung of treated livestock. Taking into account that ivermectin acts on both glutamate-gated and GABA-gated chloride ion channels of nerve and muscle cells, we predict that ivermectin's effects at the physiological level could influence many members of the dung pat community. The results indicate that the decline of dung beetle populations could be related to the harmful effects of chemical contamination in the dung.

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