RPCs and theses available in Amphibian Ecotoxicology

Are you interested in native amphibians and how pesticides affect them? The team “Community Ecology & Ecotoxicology” offers multiple research project courses (RPCs) and theses dealing with this broad topic.

The projects outlined below will be conducted from spring to autumn 2018, depending on weather conditions. The research topics are rough outlines and interested students are welcome to contribute their own ideas and research questions. The projects can be adapted to the scope of either a RPC, bachelor or master thesis, if not indicated otherwise.

Sensitivity differences of species

Juvenile common frog (Rana temporaria) (photo by E. Adams)

Ecotoxicological amphibian studies often use tropical species (especially Xenopus laevis). However, these species can be less sensitive than European species due to specific skin parameters and physiological differences. Thus, a higher sensitivity of native amphibians cannot be excluded.

You will conduct aquatic acute toxicity tests with several German amphibian species using three pesticides that are applied in European agriculture (folpet, dimethoate, glyphosate) to derive median lethal concentrations (96-h LC50). Afterwards you will derive species sensitivity distributions (SSD). This will enable you to compare the sensitivities of German amphibians and to investigate the variability between substances.

Effects of additives in pesticide products

Juvenile common frog (Rana temporaria) in test terrarium for overspray scenarios (photo by E. Adams)

To ensure an optimal efficacy of pesticides, active ingredients are combined with various additives and applied in the agricultural landscape. Thus, these additives can have an effect on non-target organisms like amphibians, too.

You will conduct aquatic and terrestrial acute toxicity tests with the European common frog (Rana temporaria) using three pesticides and several solutions of additives. Thereby, you can identify lethal and sublethal effects (oxidative stress and neurotransmitter inhibition) of additives and possible synergistic effects of the active ingredient combined with additives.

Sublethal effects of pesticide mixtures

Breeding pond in the viticultural landscape (photo by C. Leeb)

Most pesticides in the environment are present in mixtures. Since they can temporarily accumulate in small ponds, long-term exposure of small concentrations can lead to sublethal effects in amphibians.

You will support the work of a semi-field study with the European common frog (Rana temporaria) in the Palatine viticultural landscape. Thereby, you will investigate sublethal effects like biochemical biomarkers (oxidative stress and neurotransmitter inhibition), malformations, development and behavioral changes.

Effects of tick control products (only RPC possible!)

Experimental setup of aquatic acute toxicity tests (photo by E. Adams)

Today’s insecticides for pets have made great advancements and a wide array of different compounds have been formulated. Insecticides like pyrethrins and pyrethroids are commonly used in tick collars of pets.

You will imitate the exposure of dog tick collars in ponds in aquatic acute toxicity tests with the European common frog (Rana temporaria). Thereby, you will identify possible sublethal effects (oxidative stress and neurotransmitter inhibition).

Are you interested?

If you are interested in doing a RPC or thesis within our team or if you have any further questions, please contact us:

Elena Adams (adams@uni-landau.de) or Dr. Carsten Brühl (bruehl@uni-landau.de)