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Measuring chemical impacts on amphibians: Ecotoxicity and behavioural data in governmental regulation

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Despite widespread use of agrochemicals globally, surprisingly little is known about their effects on amphibian populations. Regulatory authorities often rely on data from fish and invertebrate species, and data that are available or accepted for amphibians are often short-term, single factor and single-species tests of growth and survival. Investigations that are more biologically realistic, both in terms of the variables considered (e.g. multiple factors, different species, hormone disruption and delayed fitness effects) and in the range of endpoints measured (biochemical, genetic, physiological and behavioural) are essential. Behaviour reflects an integrative measure of physiological, biochemical and ecological processes and mechanisms. Therefore, behavioural indicators, which are sensitive and non-lethal, provide a valuable tool for understanding the effects of contaminants on reproductive success, survival, and competitive and community interactions. In order to translate such understanding into strategies to minimise the impacts of contamination on amphibians, awareness of the requirements and limitations of governmental chemical regulation is also needed. Improved harmonisation of approach and emphasis between ecotoxicology and regulation will focus efforts more effectively on mitigating the risks posed by chemicals to amphibian populations.


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