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Sublethal effects of an acetylcholinesterase-inhibiting pesticide on fitness-related traits in the western fence lizard (Sceloporous occidentalis)
DuRant, Sarah Elizabeth
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Pesticides are commonly used around the world for a multitude of different purposes and on diverse habitats, including agricultural fields, wetlands, and personal lawns and gardens. Currently, acetylcholinesterase (AChE)-inhibiting pesticides are among the most prevalently used chemical pesticides in the United States. A wealth of information exists on sub-cellular responses of organisms, primarily birds, mammals, and fish, exposed to these compounds. However, the effects of AChE-inhibiting pesticides at the whole-organism level, most importantly effects relevant to an individual's fitness, have received less attention. My Master's research focused on describing the effects of carbaryl, an AChE-inhibiting pesticide, on several fitness-related traits in the western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis). Reptiles are the least studied vertebrate taxon in ecotoxicological studies even though contaminants are suspected in contributing to recent population declines. Using multiple dose concentrations within the range expected to occur in nature (based on EPA application rates and published pesticide residues on insects), I quantified the effects of carbaryl on sprint performance energy acquisition, and energy allocation, traits which could have important implications for the animal's ability to avoid predators, capture prey, and grow and reproduce. I found that at the highest dose concentration, lizards experienced a decrease in arboreal and terrestrial locomotor performance, a decrease in energy acquisition, and alterations in energy allocation. My findings suggest that acute exposure to high concentrations of carbaryl can have important sublethal consequences on fitness-related traits in S. occidentalis. Future studies should examine the consequences of multiple-pulse exposures to AChE-inhibiting pesticides on reptiles.
- Masters Theses