Neonicotinoids thiamethoxam and clothianidin adversely affect the colonisation of invertebrate populations in aquatic microcosms

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2018 Apr;25(10):9593-9599. doi: 10.1007/s11356-017-1125-5. Epub 2018 Jan 22.


Surface waters are sometimes contaminated with neonicotinoids: a widespread, persistent, systemic class of insecticide with leaching potential. Previous ecotoxicological investigations of this chemical class in aquatic ecosystems have largely focused on the impacts of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid; few empirical, manipulative studies have investigated the effect on invertebrate abundances of two other neonicotinoids which are now more widely used: clothianidin and thiamethoxam. In this study, we employ a simple microcosm semi-field design, incorporating a one-off contamination event, to investigate the effect of these pesticides at field-realistic levels (ranging from 0 to 15 ppb) on invertebrate colonisation and survival in small ephemeral ponds. In line with previous research on neonicotinoid impacts on aquatic invertebrates, significant negative effects of both neonicotinoids were found. There were clear differences between the two chemicals, with thiamethoxam generally producing stronger negative effects than clothianidin. Populations of Chironomids (Diptera) and Ostracoda were negatively affected by both chemicals, while Culicidae appeared to be unaffected by clothianidin at the doses used. Our data demonstrate that field-realistic concentrations of neonicotinoids are likely to reduce populations of invertebrates found in ephemeral ponds, which may have knock on effects up the food chain. We highlight the importance of developing pesticide monitoring schemes for European surface waters.

Keywords: Aquatic invertebrates; Freshwater contamination; Neonicotinoids; Pesticides.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Guanidines
  • Insecticides / chemistry
  • Insecticides / pharmacology*
  • Invertebrates / drug effects*
  • Neonicotinoids / chemistry
  • Neonicotinoids / pharmacology*
  • Nitro Compounds / chemistry
  • Nitro Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Pesticides / chemistry
  • Pesticides / pharmacology*
  • Thiamethoxam / chemistry
  • Thiamethoxam / pharmacology*
  • Thiazoles


  • Guanidines
  • Insecticides
  • Neonicotinoids
  • Nitro Compounds
  • Pesticides
  • Thiazoles
  • clothianidin
  • imidacloprid
  • Thiamethoxam