Contaminant exposure effects in a changing climate: how multiple stressors can multiply exposure effects in the amphipod Hyalella azteca

Ecotoxicology. 2018 Sep;27(7):845-859. doi: 10.1007/s10646-018-1912-x. Epub 2018 Feb 20.


Global climate change (GCC) is likely to intensify the synergistic effects between altered physicochemical parameters [of changing habitats] and other anthropogenic threats, such as water pollution, posing increased risks to aquatic biodiversity. As such, it is critical to understand how organisms will respond to changes in water temperature and salinity in the presence of contaminants. We exposed the epibenthic amphipod Hyalella azteca to a 3 × 3 factorial treatment design of three temperatures and three salinities ranging from 12 to 18 °C and 0 to 8 parts per thousand (ppt), respectively, in combination with a low-level environmentally relevant concentration of the pyrethroid insecticide bifenthrin (1 ng/L). Effects on survival and swimming behavior were evaluated after 96 h exposure. Transcription of a select suite of genes was monitored at 24, 48, and 96 h using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). Our results not only demonstrate that the changes in salinity and temperature result in negative effects to invertebrate survival, behavior, and gene response, but that the effects were significantly more pronounced in the presence of bifenthrin. This is particularly important since greater thermal fluctuations, changes in timing and extent of glacial melt, and changes in precipitation, could result in H. azteca experiencing lower temperatures at times that coincide with increased spraying of pyrethroids. These environmentally relevant exposures using the standard test species H. azteca provide essential information for understanding effects caused by GCC in conjunction with increasing pesticide use, further highlighting the need to incorporate GCC impacts into risk assessments of contaminants of concern.

Keywords: Amphipod; Bifenthrin; Pyrethroid; Sublethal endpoint; Water pollution.

MeSH terms

  • Amphipoda / drug effects*
  • Animals
  • California
  • Climate Change
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Insecticides / toxicity*
  • Movement / drug effects
  • Pyrethrins / toxicity*
  • Salinity*
  • Stress, Physiological / drug effects
  • Temperature*


  • Insecticides
  • Pyrethrins
  • bifenthrin