Interactive effects of maternal and environmental exposure to coal combustion wastes decrease survival of larval southern toads (Bufo terrestris)

Brian S. Metts, Kurt A. Buhlmann, David E. Scott, Tracey D. Tuberville, William A. Hopkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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We conducted a mesocosm study to assess the individual and interactive effects of previous maternal exposure and larval exposure to trace element-laden sediments on southern toads (Bufo terrestris). Previous maternal exposure to coal combustion wastes (CCW) reduced larval survival to metamorphosis up to 57% compared to larvae of unexposed females. Larvae reared on CCW accumulated significant concentrations of trace elements resulting in extended larval periods, reduced growth rates, and reduced mass at metamorphosis. However, the effects were dependent on age of sediments, suggesting the effects of contaminants from CCW may be partially ameliorated over time through the reduced bioavailability of trace elements in aged CCW. Most importantly, maternal exposure to contaminants coupled with larval exposure to fresh CCW interacted to reduce survival to metamorphosis by 85% compared to reference conditions. Our study yields further evidence that disposal of CCW in aquatic basins potentially creates ecological traps for some amphibian populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-218
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2012



  • Amphibian
  • Coal combustion wastes
  • Contaminants
  • Selenium
  • Trace elements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Toxicology

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