A Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki Biopesticide Does Not Reduce Hatching Success or Tadpole Survival at Environmentally Relevant Concentrations in Southern Leopard Frogs (Lithobates sphenocephalus)


Amphibians are in global decline, and anthropogenic activities are known leading causes of their demise. Thus the interaction between agriculture and amphibian health has been examined for decades. Many facets of amphibian physiology and ecology place them at high risk among the nontarget organisms affected by agricultural byproducts. Research has shown that many chemicals and fertilizers affect amphibian growth, reproduction, and survival. The impacts differ based on the type of agricultural byproduct (e.g., chemical pesticide or nutrient-heavy fertilizer) and amphibian species, but the effects are usually negative. However, minimal research exists on how organic biopesticides interact with amphibian populations. Biopesticides utilize insecticidal bacteria as the active ingredient in lieu of synthetic chemicals. The inert ingredients present in biopesticide commercial products are considered safe to nontarget organisms. The present study tested the impacts of a commercial biopesticide on the survival of amphibian embryos and larvae. We found that expected environmental concentrations of the microbial biopesticide Monterrey B.t. did not significantly reduce survival in embryos or larvae. However, the higher doses used to assess threshold toxicity levels caused significant mortality. Our data suggest that biopesticides are not directly harmful to amphibian embryos or larvae in concentrations regularly applied for pest control. Environ Toxicol Chem 2019;39:155–161. © 2019 SETAC.

Publication Title

Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry