Increased pesticide use in rice agricultural ecosystems may alter competitive interactions between invasive and native amphibian species. We conducted an experiment with two rice paddy amphibians found in Luzon, Philippines, the invasive cane toad (Rhinella marina) and the endemic Luzon wart frog (Fejervarya vittigera), to determine whether exposure to a common herbicide, butachlor, drives competitive interactions in favor of the invasive amphibian. Our results revealed that competition had a strong effect on the development of both species, but in opposing directions; Luzon wart frog tadpoles were smaller and developed slower than when raised alone, whereas cane toad tadpoles were larger and developed faster. Contrary to our predictions, development and survival of endemic wart frog tadpoles was not affected by butachlor, whereas invasive cane toad tadpoles were affected across several endpoints including gene expression, body size, and survival. We also observed an interaction between pesticide exposure and competition for the cane toad, where survival declined but body size and expression of thyroid sensitive genes increased. Taken together, our findings indicate that the success of the cane toad larvae in rice fields may be best explained by increased rates of development and larger body sizes of tadpoles in response to competition with native Luzon wart frog tadpoles rather than lower sensitivity to a common pesticide. Our results for the cane toad also provide evidence that butachlor can disrupt thyroid hormone mediated development in amphibians, and further demonstrate that important species interactions such as competition can be affected by pesticide exposure in aquatic ecosystems.
- Cane Toad
- Endocrine Disruption
- Luzon Wart Frog
- Southeast Asia
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis