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Evidence for links between feeding inhibition, population characteristics and sensitivity to acute toxicity for Daphnia magna

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Publication details

JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
DateE-pub ahead of print - 9 Jul 2013
DatePublished (current) - 20 Aug 2013
Issue number16
Pages (from-to)9461-9469
Early online date9/07/13
Original languageEnglish


A population experiment with Daphnia magna tested the hypothesis that short-term feeding inhibition provokes a shift in population structure that will vary with conspecific pressure (e.g., pressure occurring from individuals of the same species due to competition for food and space) and increases population sensitivity to a xenobiotic exposure due to size-dependent toxicity (e.g., decreasing sensitivity with increasing body length). Populations were exposed for one week to a feeding inhibitor (imidacloprid, 0.15 or 12.0 mg/L) followed by one week of recovery and one day of exposure to an acute toxin (carbaryl, 0.0098 mg/L). Identical exposure under low and high conspecific pressure was studied by delaying the start of exposure for half of the populations by two weeks; thus populations were in a different stage of population development when exposure occurred. Feeding inhibition of 97% (12.0 mg/L imidacloprid) caused a shift in population structure toward smaller individuals but also reduced population abundance by up to 56 ± 7% with a strong influence of conspecific pressure. Increased population sensitivity to carbaryl was observed after feeding inhibition of 97% as hypothesized. Carbaryl exposure for one day resulted in population decline of up to 23 ± 6% when populations were not previously exposed to imidacloprid. Identical carbaryl exposure provoked a four times stronger decline in population abundance when exposure occurred following feeding inhibition of 97%. In conflict with the hypothesis, this was at least in part due to changes in the reproductive strategy of daphnids following exposure to imidacloprid rather than driven by the shift in population structure. The differences in population sensitivity to additional stress (carbaryl) occurring one week after feeding inhibition caused by exposure to imidacloprid adds a further challenge to understanding potential impacts from multiple stressors as occurring in the field at the population level.

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