Pesticide Effects on Amphibians

Photo Credit: Lynn Ketchum, Oregon State University

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Oregon State University researchers are looking at the effects of pesticides and fertilizers on the amphibian world, and have put together a comprehensive study that is different from others.

Scientist Nick Baker and his team at OSU say pesticide use is harming amphibians across the world. Researchers broke down different pesticides and fertilizers into chemical classes, and looked to see which chemicals are more harmful to salamanders and frogs than others.

“About a third of the amphibian species on our planet are either extinct or threatened,” said Tiffany Garcia, an OSU professor who worked on the study. “So this is a taxonomic group that we’re worried about.”

Garcia says amphibians are an important part of the ecology, and serve as prey to a variety of animals. She says she hopes the research encourages farmers to use chemicals that target specific organisms, instead of ones that affect all wildlife.

“The big problem with pesticides in general are non-target effects,” she said. “So people will often spray pesticides to try to kill a specific organism. Unfortunately, if it’s a broad-based pesticide, it can kill a lot more than that.”

Garcia argues that pesticides are necessary for agriculture production, but hopes that farmers around the world move away from broad-based fertilizers.

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