Ecotoxicology (London, England)

Level of UV-B radiation influences the effects of glyphosate-based herbicide on the spotted salamander.

PMID 25794558


Glyphosate-based herbicides are the number one pesticide in the United States and are used commonly around the world. Understanding the affects of glyphosate-based herbicides on non-target wildlife, for example amphibians, is critical for evaluation of regulations pertaining to the use of such herbicides. Additionally, it is important to understand how variation in biotic and abiotic environmental conditions, such as UV-B light regime, could potentially affect how glyphosate-based herbicides interact with non-target species. This study used artificial pond mesocosms to identify the effects of generic glyphosate-based herbicide (GLY-4 Plus) on mortality, cellular immune response, body size, and morphological plasticity of larvae of the spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) under conditions that reflect moderate (UV(M)) and low (UV(L)) UV-B light regimes. Survival within a given UV-B level was unaffected by herbicide presence or absence. However, when herbicide was present, survival varied between UV-B levels with higher survival in UV(M) conditions. Herbicide presence in the UV(M) treatments also decreased body size and reduced cellular immune response. In the UV(L) treatments, the presence of herbicide increased body size and affected tail morphology. Finally, in the absence of herbicide, body size and cellular immune response were higher in UV(M) treatments compared to UV(L) treatments. Thus, the effects of herbicide on salamander fitness were dependent on UV-B level. As anthropogenic habitat modifications continue to alter landscapes that contain amphibian breeding ponds, salamanders may increasingly find themselves in locations with reduced canopy cover and increased levels of UV light. Our findings suggest that the probability of surviving exposure to the glyphosate-based herbicide used in this study may be elevated in more open canopy ponds, but the effects on other components of fitness may be varied and unexpected.