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Eucalypt plantations disturb the development of amphibian larvae

Consequences of human actions like global warming, spread of exotic species or resource consumption are pushing species to extinction. Even species considered to be at low extinction risk often show signs of local declines. Here, the impact of eucalypt plantations, the best-known exotic tree species worldwide, was evaluated as well as its interaction with temperature and predators on amphibian development, growth, antipredator responses and physiology. For this purpose, a fully factorial experiment was applied crossing two types of leaf litter (native oak or eucalypt), two temperatures (15 and 20°C) and presence/absence of native predators. Leachates of eucalypt leaf litter reduced amphibian development and growth, compromised their antipredator responses and altered their metabolic rate. Increased temperature itself also posed serious alterations on development, growth, antioxidant ability and the immune status of tadpoles. However, the combined effects of eucalypt leaf litter and increased temperature were additive, not synergistic. Therefore, non-lethal levels of a globally spread disruptor such as leachates from eucalypt leaf litter can seriously impact the life history and physiology of native amphibian populations. This study highlights the need to evaluate the status of wild populations exposed to human activities even if not at an obvious immediate risk of extinction, based on reliable stress markers, in order to anticipate demographic declines that may be hard to reverse once started. Replacing eucalypt plantations with native trees in protected areas would help improving the health of local amphibian larvae. In zones of economic interest, providing patches of native vegetation around ponds and removing eucalypt leaf litter from pond basins during their dry phase is recommend. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Burraco et al (2018) Eucalypt leaf litter impairs growth and development of amphibian larvae, inhibits their antipredator responses and alters their physiology. Conserv Physiol DOI 10.1093/conphys/coy066


https://academic.oup.com/conphys/article/6/1/coy066/5237860
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