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

in Amphibia-Reptilia
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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.

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

in Amphibia-Reptilia



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    Temporary ponds from agroecosystems with different amounts of sugarcane assessed during the 2015/2016 rainy season in São José do Rio Preto, São Paulo State (Brazil). Black dots for ponds where malformed tadpoles were found, grey dots for ponds where malformed tadpoles were not found. E_(A, B, C, D) for east ponds, SO_(A, B, C, D, E) for southwest ponds, NO_(A, B, C, D, E) for northwest ponds and N_(A, B, C, D, E) for north ponds.

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    Coordinates (datum = WGS84), local and spatial variables of 19 temporary ponds from agroecosystems with different amounts of sugarcane studied during the 2015/2016 rainy season in São José do Rio Preto, São Paulo (Brazil). Depth = maximum water depth in pond. Distance = shorter distance between the pond and the nearest sugarcane field. Sugarcane and potential presence of teratogens = proportion of these land uses within the circular buffer area of a 1 km radius surrounding each pond. Concentration of pesticides = total concentration of pesticides in ponds.

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    Eye malformations detected in Scinax fuscovarius larvae collected during the 2015/2016 rainy season in temporary ponds from agroecosystems with different amounts of sugarcane in São José do Rio Preto, São Paulo (Brazil). Ua = unaffected, A = anophthalmia (absence of eye), Ap = aphakia (absence eye lens), M = microphthalmia (eye abnormally small), bM = bilateral microphtalmia and S = sub-development (small amorphous and not emerged eye). Scale bars = 1 cm.

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    Presence/absence of pesticides in water samples from 18 temporary ponds from agroecosystems with different amounts of sugarcane collected during the 2015/2016 rainy season in São José do Rio Preto, São Paulo (Brazil). D = detected; – = not detected.

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    Occurrences / frequencies (%) of eye malformations detected in larvae populations of Scinax fuscovarius inhabiting temporary ponds from agroecosystems with different amounts of sugarcane. N = number of tadpoles sampled in the pond. Anophthalmia (absence of eye), Aphakia (absence eye lens), Microphthalmia (eye abnormally small), Sub-development (small amorphous and not emerged eye). The number of bilateral malformation occurrences is in parentheses.

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    Fisher’s exact tests (two-tailed) for associations between ponds with water contaminated with pesticides and occurrence of eye malformations in larvae of Scinax fuscovarius. N = number of ponds; M = number of ponds where we recorded at least one individual with eye malformation; C = number of contaminated ponds; U = number of uncontaminated ponds.


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