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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Effects of Pesticides on the Bioluminescent Brittle Star Amphipholis squamata: Implications for Future Regulation

  • Author(s): Roberson, Megan Lee
  • et al.

Pesticide use is increasing worldwide. Thousands of pounds of active ingredients are used annually in the United States alone. While the use of these pesticides is prolific, our knowledge of the impacts they have on non-target species, ecosystems, and even our own bodies is lacking. This study aims to provide a better understanding of the sub-lethal effects of some of the most common pesticides on the bioluminescent brittle star Amphipholis squamata. This animal’s ability to produce light via its nervous system provides a new way to measure sub-lethal toxicity as opposed to traditional LC50 tests. Brittle stars were exposed to different concentrations of atrazine, cypermethrin, fipronil and glyphosate for one week. Changes in light production and intensity were measured. All treatments of each pesticide showed differences in all measures of light relative to those of the control. Exposure to these pesticides at very small concentrations of 10 µg/L and 1 µg/L also resulted in death in the majority of treatments. The results from this study can be used to inform regulation of these pesticides, and provide better insight into the consequences of pesticides in agricultural and urban runoff.

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