Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Sparling, Donald


Evidence is growing that agrochemicals are playing a role in the decline of amphibians in California. An area of concern is the Sierra Nevada Mountains, where insecticides used in the Central Valley are aerially transported to amphibian habitats. I examined the effects of two of these insecticides, endosulfan and chlorpyrifos, in two experiments on anuran larvae. For the first experiment I exposed Sierra Mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana sierrae) larvae starting at Gosner stage 25 to each insecticide for 63 d to determine median lethal concentrations (LC50) and sublethal effects on growth and development. In the second experiment Sierran treefrog (Pseudacris regilla) larvae were exposed to chlorpyrifos and endosulfan individually and in combination from Gosner stage 25 through metamorphosis to evaluate the interaction between these insecticides. In the first experiment the endosulfan LC50 was 19.8 µg/L (95% confidence interval, 15.3-52.2 µg/L) and the chlorpyrifos LC50 was 595 µg/L (95% confidence interval could not be determined). Endosulfan concentrations greater than 8 µg/L reduced growth but had no effect on time to metamorphosis. No larvae exposed to chlorpyrifos reached metamorphosis. All larvae exposed to greater than 737 µg/L died before the end of the experiment. Growth was reduced above 325 µg/L and cholinesterase was depressed at 737 µg/L compared to controls. In the second experiment the interactive effects of the insecticides depended on concentration and exposure duration. Chlorpyrifos alone did not affect survival or body size after 30 d, even at concentrations greater than the previously reported LC50. Survival and body size decreased with increasing endosulfan concentrations. In combination, 137 µg/L chlorpyrifos inhibited the negative effects of endosulfan on growth and survival and the positive effects of endosulfan on cholinesterase.




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