Study: Ozone Exposure Harms Amphibians

A new study has found that elevated ozone found in lower layers of the atmosphere could be another contributing factor to the ongoing decline and disappearance of many populations of amphibians. The study is published in the latest issue of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

Declines of many amphibian populations over the past two decades have received significant attention from biologists, in part because amphibians are viewed as monitors or sentinels of pollution and other anthropogenic changes to the environment. Their importance as potential indicators of environmental health is well recognized for watersheds but is more problematic for air quality.

Ozone (O3) is a common air pollutant in many urban settings. Consequently, in adjacent wildlife habitats, O3 levels can frequently exceed federally recommended levels. It is a highly reactive gas that can be elevated at ground levels by a chemical reaction between oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds in the presence of sunlight.

In studying the feeding and escape/exploratory behavior of toads after acute and chronic exposure to O3, the researchers concluded that O3 affects many aspects of toad behavior and physiology in a manner consistent with the extensive literature on humans and other mammals. The study results indicate that exposure to oxidant air pollution might be a contributing factor to declines in amphibian populations.

To read the entire study, "Ozone Exposure Affects Feeding and Locomotor Behavior of Adult Bufo marinus" (Michael R. Dohm, William J. Mautz, Rogelio E. Doratt, and Julien R. Stevens), visit http://www.allenpress.com/pdf/entc-27-05.20.pdf

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