Acute toxicity tests and meta-analysis identify gaps in tropical ecotoxicology for amphibians

Environ Toxicol Chem. 2014 Sep;33(9):2114-9. doi: 10.1002/etc.2665. Epub 2014 Aug 5.


Amphibian populations are declining worldwide, particularly in tropical regions where amphibian diversity is highest. Pollutants, including agricultural pesticides, have been identified as a potential contributor to decline, yet toxicological studies of tropical amphibians are very rare. The present study assesses toxic effects on amphibians of 10 commonly used commercial pesticides in tropical agriculture using 2 approaches. First, the authors conducted 8-d toxicity assays with formulations of each pesticide using individually reared red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas) tadpoles. Second, they conducted a review of available data for the lethal concentration to kill 50% of test animals from the US Environmental Protection Agency's ECOTOX database to allow comparison with their findings. Lethal concentration estimates from the assays ranged over several orders of magnitude. The nematicides terbufos and ethoprophos and the fungicide chlorothalonil were very highly toxic, with evident effects within an order of magnitude of environmental concentrations. Acute toxicity assays and meta-analysis show that nematicides and fungicides are generally more toxic than herbicides yet receive far less research attention than less toxic herbicides. Given that the tropics have a high diversity of amphibians, the findings emphasize the need for research into the effects of commonly used pesticides in tropical countries and should help guide future ecotoxicological research in tropical regions.

Keywords: Amphibian; Costa Rica; Fungicide; Nematicide; Tropical toxicology.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anura / physiology*
  • Ecotoxicology
  • Larva / drug effects
  • Larva / physiology
  • Nitriles / toxicity
  • Organothiophosphorus Compounds / toxicity
  • Pesticides / toxicity*
  • Toxicity Tests, Acute
  • United States


  • Nitriles
  • Organothiophosphorus Compounds
  • Pesticides
  • ethoprophos
  • tetrachloroisophthalonitrile
  • terbufos