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Eye malformation baseline in Scinax fuscovarius larvae populations that inhabit agroecosystem ponds in southern Brazil

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Events of mass malformations in amphibian populations that have exceeded historical records have been reported over the past thirty years. Many of these events have been linked to human activities that occurred near amphibian breeding habitats. The rise in biofuels has promoted, and continues to promote, the growth of sugarcane plantations in Brazil, with the northwest region of São Paulo State having experienced the largest sugarcane expansion over the past few decades. In this region, we sampled temporary ponds located in agroecosystems dominated to different degrees by sugarcane. We found several larvae of Scinax fuscovarius with eye malformations (anophthalmia, aphakia, microphthalmia and sub-development). In this study, we assessed whether the distance from the ponds to the nearest sugarcane crop, the proportion of sugarcane surrounding the ponds, the presence of pesticides in the ponds, or the proportion of land uses with potential teratogens that surround the ponds were related to the frequencies of amphibian eye malformations. We found pesticides present in 11 of the 18 ponds, but none of the predictor variables was associated with the frequencies of amphibian eye malformations. Thus, our results suggest that the observed frequencies of amphibian eye malformations could be a consequence of natural mutation rates, and these data could be used as a malformation baseline for the region. This malformation baseline is the first reported for amphibians in South America and may be useful in future surveys on amphibian populations in tropical agroecosystems.

Affiliations: 1: 1Instituto de Pesquisa em Bioenergia, Universidade Estadual Paulista, Rio Claro, SP 13500-230, Brazil ; 2: 2Laboratório de Ecologia Teórica, Departmento de Zoologia e Botânica, Universidade Estadual Paulista, São José do Rio Preto, SP 15054-000, Brazil ; 3: 3Faculdade de Tecnologia, Universidade de Campinas, Limeira, SP 13484-332, Brazil ; 4: 4Laboratório de Química Ambiental, Departamento de Química Analítica, Instituto de Química, Universidade de Campinas, Campinas, SP 13484-332, Brazil ; 5: 5Laboratório de Ecologia Teórica: Integrando Tempo, Biologia e Espaço (LET.IT.BE), Departmento de Ciências Ambientais, Universidade Federal de São Carlos, Sorocaba, SP 18052-780, Brazil ; 6: 6Departamento de Ciências Naturais, Fundação Universidade Regional de Blumenau, Itoupava Seca, SC 89030-903, Brazil

*Corresponding author; e-mail:

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