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NAU Study: Fish And Frogs Swim Slower After Pesticide Exposure

(Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Northern Arizona University biologists reviewed studies that focused on the effects of pesticides on fish and frogs.

Fish and frogs swim slower when they’re exposed to pesticides, according to a review study by two Northern Arizona University biologists.

Molly Shuman-Goodier and Catherine Propper compiled data from dozens of laboratory experiments. They found, on average, fish and amphibians swam 35 percent slower and were 72 percent less active after pesticide exposure.

Propper said that result was consistent for almost every kind of chemical tested.

“I didn’t think that we would see it across such a wide range of pesticides so consistently, but we did,” she said. “And that leads to some concerns about environmental exposure for organisms.”  

Sluggish fish and frogs might have trouble finding food or mates, and can be more vulnerable to predation. Propper points to a need for more research on how small doses of pesticides affect animal behavior and potentially human health.

The study appeared in Science of The Total Environment .

Melissa grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Arizona and an M.FA. in Creative Writing and Environment from Iowa State University.