Pesticides Found in Sierra Nevada Frogs
Even though DDT was banned in the United States in 1972, it’s byproduct, DDE, is still one of the most widely detected compounds in our natural environment. And this compound along with several other pesticides and fungicides are being detected in innocent wildlife.
A recent study conducted by the USGS California Water Science Center and the USGS Western Ecological Research Center shows that frogs in the Sierra Nevada mountain habitats have concentrations of these pesticides within their tissues.
"Our results show that current-use pesticides, particularly fungicides, are accumulating in the bodies of Pacific chorus frogs in the Sierra Nevada," says Kelly Smalling, a research hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and lead author of the study. "This is the first time we’ve detected many of these compounds, including fungicides, in the Sierra Nevada. The data generated by this study support past research on the potential of pesticides to be transported by wind or rain from the Central Valley to the Sierras."
"Having experts such as hydrologists, chemists, and biologists working together on our staff is part of what USGS can uniquely bring to address complex environmental problems," said USGS Pacific Region Director, Mark Sogge.
Researchers collected and analyzed water and sediment samples and frogs for more than 90 different types of pesticides. The Pacific chorus frog (Pseudacris regilla) was chosen because it is commonly found in water bodies across the Sierra Nevada, allowing researchers to compare results across locations.
Two fungicides, commonly used in agriculture, pyraclostrobin and tebuconazole, and one herbicide, simazine, were the most frequently detected compounds, and this is the first time these compounds have ever been reported in wild frog tissue. "One notable finding was that among sites where pesticides were detected in frog tissue, none of those compounds were detected in the water samples and only a few were detected in the sediment samples," adds Smalling. "This suggests that frogs might be a more reliable indicator of environmental accumulation for these types of pesticides, than either water or soil."
"Documenting the presence of environmental contaminants in amphibians found in our protected federal lands is an important first step in finding out whether the frogs are experiencing health consequences from such exposure," says Patrick Kleeman, a USGS amphibian ecologist who collected the frog samples. "Unfortunately, these animals are often exposed to a cocktail of multiple contaminants, making it difficult to parse out the effects of individual contaminants."
Read more at USGS.
Pacific chorus frog image via Shutterstock.