Amphibian malformations and body condition across an agricultural landscape of northwest Argentina
GUERRA, CECILIA; ARÁOZ, EZEQUIEL
DISEASES OF AQUATIC ORGANISMS
Año: 2016 vol. 121 p. 105 - 116
Agricultural landscapes support large amphibian populations because they provide habitat for many species, although agriculture affects amphibians through various mechanisms. Pollution with agrochemicals is the major threat to amphibian populations after habitat loss, as chemicals alter the ecophysiology of amphibians, putting their health and survival at risk. We aimed to assess the effect of different environments, sites, width of forest buffers and sampling years on the health of amphibians, which was estimated through the prevalence of malformations and body condition. During 3 yr of pitfall trapping, we captured 4491 amphibians. The prevalence of malformations was higher in the croplands than in the forests, while the body condition was better within forests. The prevalence of malformations was higher in the narrower forest site than in the wider forest site. The prevalence of malformations and the body condition were higher in the third year. The prevalence of malformations differed by species. We found 11 types of malformation, which mainly affected limbs and were unilateral or bilaterally asymmetrical. Our results showed that the prevalence of malformations and body condition reflect different aspects of the health of amphibians and that forest individuals are healthier than those from croplands. The results also highlight the importance of spatial configuration besides the conservation of natural habitats to preserve healthy amphibians in agricultural landscapes. The types of malformation that we found suggest that agrochemicals could be an important cause of malformations.