Endosulfan exposure disrupts pheromonal systems in the red-spotted newt: A mechanism for subtle effects of environmental chemicals

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Because chemicals introduced into the environment by humans can affect both long-term survivorship and reproduction of amphibians, discovering the specific mechanisms through which these chemicals act may facilitate the development of plans for amphibian conservation. We investigated the amphibian pheromonal system as a potential target of common environmental chemicals. By treating female red-spotted newts, Notophthalmus viridescens, to a commonly used insecticide, endosulfan, we found that the pheromonal system is highly susceptible to low-concentration exposure. The impairment of the pheromonal system directly led to disrupted mate choice and lowered mating success. There were no other notable physiologic or behavioral changes demonstrated by the animals at the insecticide concentrations administered. Our findings suggest that the amphibian pheromonal system is one of the systems subject to subtle negative effects of environmental chemicals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)669-673
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001



  • Amphibian declines
  • Electro-olfactogram
  • Endosulfan
  • Environmental chemicals
  • Insecticides
  • Olfaction
  • Pheromones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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