The effects of metaldehyde on non-target aquatic macroinvertebrates: integrating field and laboratory-based evidence

Gething, K. ORCID: 0000-0002-4997-0249, Pickwell, A., Chadd, R.P. and Wood, P.J., 2020. The effects of metaldehyde on non-target aquatic macroinvertebrates: integrating field and laboratory-based evidence. Environmental Pollution, 265 (Part A): 115015. ISSN 0269-7491

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The use of pesticides has historically helped improve agricultural productivity, although their continued use may have unforeseen effects upon the natural environment when not applied appropriately. Metaldehyde is a commercial pesticide widely used to reduce crop losses resulting from terrestrial mollusc damage. However, following precipitation and runoff it frequently enters waterbodies with largely unknown consequences for aquatic fauna. This study represents one of the first attempts to examine its potential effects on aquatic macroinvertebrate communities at sites known to have experienced elevated metaldehyde concentrations alongside unaffected control sites. In addition, a series of laboratory exposures specifically examined the effects of metaldehyde on the survivorship of non-target aquatic mollusc species. When the entire aquatic macroinvertebrate community and aquatic mollusc community were considered, limited differences were observed between metaldehyde affected and control sites based on field data. Laboratory exposures highlighted that for the molluscs examined, gastropods (Bithynia tentaculata, Planorbis planorbis, Radix balthica and Potamopyrgus antipodarum) had a greater tolerance to metaldehyde than bivalves (Sphaerium corneum and Corbicula fluminea). However, the concentrations required to reduce survivorship of all species were much greater than those ever recorded historically under field conditions. The results suggest that the differences in the community composition recorded between sites exposed to elevated metaldehyde concentrations and control sites were probably due to nutrient loading (N and P from agricultural fertilizers) rather than metaldehyde. However, these results do not negate wider concerns regarding metaldehyde use, particularly issues caused when ingested by vertebrate wildlife, livestock or children and pets in domestic settings.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Environmental Pollution
Creators: Gething, K., Pickwell, A., Chadd, R.P. and Wood, P.J.
Publisher: Elsevier
Date: October 2020
Volume: 265
Number: Part A
ISSN: 0269-7491
S026974912030470XPublisher Item Identifier
Divisions: Schools > School of Science and Technology
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 17 Nov 2021 14:23
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2022 03:00

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