Herbicides employed in sugarcane plantations have lethal and sublethal effects to larval Boana pardalis (Amphibia, Hylidae)
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The increasing demand for biofuels favored the expansion of sugarcane and, as a consequence, in the consumption of pesticides in Brazil. Amphibians are subject to pesticide exposure for occurring in or around sugarcane fields, and for breeding at the onset of the rainy season when pesticide consumption is common. We tested the hypothesis that herbicides used in sugarcane crops, although employed for weed control and manipulated at doses recommended by the manufacturers, can cause lethal and sublethal effects on amphibian larvae. Boana pardalis was exposed to glyphosate, ametryn, 2,4-D, metribuzin and acetochlor which account to up to 2/3 of the volume of herbicides employed in sugarcane production. High mortality was observed following prolonged exposure to ametryn (76%), acetochlor (68%) and glyphosate (15%); ametryn in addition significantly reduced activity rates and slowed developmental and growth rates. AChE activity was surprisingly stimulated by glyphosate, ametryn and 2,4-D, and GST activity by ametryn and acetochlor. Some of these sublethal effects, including the decrease in activity, growth and developmental rates, may have important consequences for individual performance for extending the larval period, and hence the risk of dessication, in the temporary and semi-permanent ponds where the species develops. Future studies should seek additional realism towards a risk analysis of the environmental contamination by herbicides through experiments manipulating not only active ingredients but also commercial formulations, as well as interactions among contaminants and other environmental stressors across the entire life cycle of native amphibian species.