Effects of clothianidin on aquatic communities

The widespread usage of neonicotinoid insecticides has sparked concern over their effects on non-target organisms. While research has largely focused on terrestrial systems, the low soil binding and high water solubility of neonicotinoids, paired with their extensive use on the landscape, puts aquatic environments at high risk for contamination via runoff events. We assessed the potential threat of these compounds to wetland communities using a combination of field surveys and experimental exposures including concentrations that are representative of what invertebrates experience in the field. In laboratory toxicity experiments, LC50 values ranged from 0.002 ppm to 1.2 ppm for aquatic invertebrates exposed to clothianidin. However, freshwater snails and amphibian larvae showed high tolerance to the chemical with no mortality observed at the highest dissolvable concentration of the insecticide. We also observed behavioral effects of clothianidin. Water bugs, Belostoma flumineum, displayed a dose-dependent reduction in feeding rate following exposure to clothianidin. Similarly, crayfish, Orconectes propinquus, exhibited reduced responsiveness to stimulus with increasing clothianidin concentration. Using a semi-natural mesocosm experiment, we manipulated clothianidin concentration (0.6, 5, and 352 ppb) and the presence of predatory invertebrates to explore community-level effects. We observed high invertebrate predator mortality with increases in clothianidin concentration. With increased predator mortality, prey survival increased by 50% at the highest clothianidin concentration. Thus, clothianidin contamination can result in a top-down trophic cascade in a community dominated by invertebrate predators. In our Indiana field study, we detected clothianidin (max = 176 ppb), imidacloprid (max = 141 ppb), and acetamiprid (max = 7 ppb) in soil samples. In water samples, we detected clothianidin (max = 0.67 ppb), imidacloprid (max = 0.18 ppb), and thiamethoxam (max = 2,568 ppb). Neonicotinoids were detected in >56% of soil samples and >90% of the water samples, which reflects a growing understanding that neonicotinoids are ubiquitous environmental contaminants. Collectively, our results underscore the need for additional research into the effects of neonicotinoids on aquatic communities and ecosystems.
Miles JC, Hua J, Sepulveda MS, Krupke CH, Hoverman JT (2017) Effects of clothianidin on aquatic communities: Evaluating the impacts of lethal and sublethal exposure to neonicotinoids. PLoS ONE 12(3): e0174171. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0174171