Strong delayed interactive effects of metal exposure and warming: latitude-dependent synergisms persist across metamorphosis

Sara Debecker, Khuong Van Dinh, Robby Stoks

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As contaminants are often more toxic at higher temperatures, predicting their impact under global warming remains a key challenge for ecological risk assessment. Ignoring delayed effects, synergistic interactions between contaminants and warming, and differences in sensitivity across species’ ranges could lead to an important underestimation of the risks. We addressed all three mechanisms by studying effects of larval exposure to zinc and warming before, during, and after metamorphosis in Ischnura elegans damselflies from high- and lowlatitude populations. By integrating these mechanisms into a single study, we could identify two novel patterns. First, during exposure zinc did not
affect survival, whereas it induced mild to moderate postexposure mortality
in the larval stage and at metamorphosis, and very strongly reduced adult
lifespan. This severe delayed effect across metamorphosis was especially
remarkable in high-latitude animals, as they appeared almost insensitive to
zinc during the larval stage. Second, the well-known synergism between metals and warming was manifested not only during the larval stage but also after metamorphosis, yet notably only in low-latitude damselflies. These results highlight that a more complete life-cycle approach that incorporates the possibility of delayed interactions between contaminants and warming in a
geographical context is crucial for a more realistic risk assessment in a warming world
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology (Washington)
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)2409-2417
Publication statusPublished - 2017



Præstrud, M. R. & Brodersen, S. W.


Project: Research

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