Comparative Effects of Energy-Related Saline Wastewaters and NaCl on Hatching, Survival, and Fitness-Associated Traits of Two Amphibian Species

Authors: B J Tornabene; C W Breuner; Blake R Hossack
Contribution Number: 796


Increased salinity (sodium chloride; NaCl) is a prevalent and persistent
contaminant that negatively affects freshwater ecosystems. Although
most studies focus on effects of salinity from roads salts (primarily
NaCl), high-salinity wastewaters from energy extraction (wastewaters)
could be more harmful because they contain NaCl and other toxic
components. Many amphibians are sensitive to salinity and their eggs
are thought to be the most sensitive life history stage. However, there
are few investigations with salinity that include eggs and larvae
sequentially in long-term exposures. We investigated the relative effects
of wastewaters from a large energy reserve, the Williston Basin (USA),
and NaCl on northern leopard (Rana pipiens) and boreal chorus
(Pseudacris maculata) frogs. We exposed eggs to salinity and tracked
responses through larval stages (for 24 days). Wastewaters and NaCl
reduced hatching and larval survival, growth, development, and activity
while also increasing deformities. Chorus frog eggs and larvae were
more sensitive to salinity than leopard frogs suggesting species-specific
responses. Contrary to previous studies, eggs of both species were less
sensitive to salinity than larvae. Our ecologically relevant exposures
suggest that accumulating effects can reduce survival relative to starting
experiments with unexposed larvae. Alternatively, egg casings of some
species may provide some protection against salinity. Notably, effects of
wastewaters on amphibians were predominantly due to NaCl rather than
other components. Therefore, findings from studies with other sources of
increased salinity (e.g., road salts) could guide management of
wastewater-contaminated ecosystems, and vice versa, to mitigate
effects of salinization.

Publication details
Published Date: 2021
Outlet/Publisher: Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Media Format: .PDF

ARMI Organizational Units:
Rocky Mountains, Northern - Biology
Management; Species and their Ecology; Stressors
Place Names:
Montana; North Dakota
amphibians; ecology; habitat alteration; pond-breeding amphibians; population; research; salinity; stressors; surface water; water quality; wetlands
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