Our latest publication reviews the connection between pesticides and amphibian decline. In some cases, amphibians are killed directly upon exposure. There are also sublethal effects such as delayed metamorphosis, increased predation, reduced size, reproductive problems, deformities, and depressed immune systems that lead to destruction. We identify which pesticides are causing the worst damage.
Amphibians are exposed through direct overspray, pesticide drift, rainfall, and runoff into water bodies. About 83% of urban streams and 57% of agricultural streams are contaminated with enough pesticide to be hazardous to aquatic life. Windblown pesticides from aerial applications are killing amphibians in remote mountain areas.
We also provide solutions to the problem. Some pesticides such as glyphosate, atrazine, endosulfan, chlorpyrifos, and chlorthalonil should be used much less or restricted. Glyphosate and atrazine together represent 30% of all conventional pesticides used in the U.S.
We can also protect amphibians by using IPM methods in agriculture, homes, gardens, and professional landscapes. A combination of cultural methods, resistant plants, conservation biocontrol, and reduced risk pesticides can be effective.
Buying organic food, replacing lawns with native plants, creating backyard water gardens, helping with wetland restoration, and using mechanical methods, mulches, and competitive plantings for weed control can help protect amphibians from pesticides.
Backyard gardens with resources for amphibians, birds, butterflies, bees and beneficial insects are aesthetically pleasing and can help prevent the relentless slide of amphibians toward extinction.
By William Quarles, Ph.D., Bio-Integral Resource Center
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