After a review of over 28,000 toxicological tests, researchers from the University of South Dakota, Yale University and Washington State University are challenging the prevailing view that amphibians, with their permeable skin and aquatic environment, are particularly sensitive to environmental threats and, as such, are "canaries," or predictors of environmental decline.
"The very simple message is that for most of the classes of chemical compounds we looked at, frogs range from being moderately susceptible to being bullet-proof," said David Skelly, professor of ecology at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and a member of the research team. "There are lots of other kinds of environmental threats that have led to their decline, including habitat conversion, harvesting for food and the global spread of the Chytrid fungus, which is mowing down these species in its path."
The team, led by Jacob Kerby, an assistant professor at the University of South Dakota, based its analysis on information gleaned from the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Aquatic Toxicity Information Retrieval database, examining 1,279 species, among them segmented worms, fish, bivalves such as clams, insects and snails. Those species were exposed in water to various concentrations of 107 chemical agents, including inorganic chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals and phenols, a class of chemical compound.
"What our results suggest is that all animals are susceptible to chemical stressors and that amphibians are potentially good indicators," said Kerby. "There isn't any evidence that they're a uniquely leading indicator. We tried to be comprehensive in the types of chemicals and organisms that we examined."
In light of the findings, Skelly said, scientists should evaluate the absence, presence or abundance of amphibians in wild populations as "signals" of potential exposure to different chemicals in the environment. "If we have such an understanding for several species, we may be able to use their responses, collectively, as a means of narrowing potential causes of environmental degradation," he said.
The EPA, according to the paper, uses African Clawed Frogs as a proxy for biological diversity when determining a species' sensitivity to chemical exposures, even though that particular species does not occur naturally in North America. "Our knowledge of amphibians' sensitivity to particular chemicals or classes of chemicals has not been used to design assays for effects in nature," Skelly said.
The paper is titled "An examination of amphibian sensitivity to environmental contaminants: are amphibians poor canaries?"
David DeFusco | EurekAlert!
Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon
09.12.2016 | Wildlife Conservation Society
Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine