Temperature- and latitude-specific individual growth rates shape the vulnerability of damselfly larvae to a widespread pesticide

Khuong Van Dinh, Lizanne Janssens, Sara Debecker, Robby Stoks

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1. Freshwater ecosystems are especially vulnerable to climate change and pollution. One key challenge for aquatic toxicology is to determine and manage the combined effects of temperature increase and contaminants across species' ranges.2. We tested how thermal adaptation and life-history evolution along a natural temperature gradient influence the vulnerability of an aquatic insect to a pesticide under global warming. We applied a space-for-time substitution approach to study the effect of warming on the vulnerability of Ischnura elegans damselfly larvae to the pesticide chlorpyrifos in a common garden warming experiment (20 and 24 degrees C) with replicated populations from three latitudes spanning >1500 km in Europe.3. Chlorpyrifos was more toxic to damselfly larvae at the higher temperature: mortality only occurred at 24 degrees C and the reductions in growth rate were stronger at 24 degrees C. This could partly be explained by parallel reductions in food intake but not by the activities of two widespread enzymatic biomarkers, glutathione S-transferase (GST) and acetylcholinesterase (AChE).4. There was some evidence that the increased toxicity of the high chlorpyrifos concentration at 24 degrees C was stronger in terms of growth reduction in the faster-growing larvae from the low-latitude populations. This is consistent with energy allocation trade-offs between growth rate and pesticide tolerance, but suggests that local thermal adaptation does not play a role in coping with pesticide stress.5. Synthesis and applications. Damselfly larvae from populations in lower latitudes were more vulnerable to a common pesticide at higher temperatures and pesticide concentrations, whereas evidence for the influence of local thermal adaptation on the vulnerability of larvae was weak. These results emphasize the need for spatially explicit bioassessment and conservation tools. Management practices aimed at mitigating pesticide run-off into aquatic ecosystems are particularly important in agricultural areas at low latitudes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Applied Ecology
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)919-928
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • chlorpyrifos
  • ecological risk assessment
  • global warming
  • latitudinal gradient
  • space-for-time substitution
  • thermal adaptation
  • voltinism
  • Ecology
  • Chlorpyrifos
  • Ecological risk assessment
  • Global warming
  • Latitudinal gradient
  • Space-for-time substitution
  • Thermal adaptation
  • Voltinism
  • climate change
  • concentration (composition)
  • damselfly
  • enzyme activity
  • growth rate
  • latitude
  • mortality
  • pesticide
  • temperature effect
  • Hexapoda
  • Ischnura elegans
  • Zygoptera
  • Europe Palearctic region
  • freshwater ecosystem
  • pollution
  • species distribution
  • Insecta Arthropoda Invertebrata Animalia (Animals, Arthropods, Insects, Invertebrates) - Odonata [75338] Ischnura elegans species damselfly common larva
  • acetylcholinesterase AChE 9000-81-1 EC
  • chlorpyrifos 2921-88-2 toxin, pesticide
  • glutathione S-transferase GST 50812-37-8 EC
  • 07508, Ecology: environmental biology - Animal
  • 07514, Ecology: environmental biology - Limnology
  • 10060, Biochemistry studies - General
  • 10802, Enzymes - General and comparative studies: coenzymes
  • 22501, Toxicology - General and methods
  • 22506, Toxicology - Environment and industry
  • 25502, Development and Embryology - General and descriptive
  • 37015, Public health - Air, water and soil pollution
  • 54600, Pest control: general, pesticides and herbicides
  • 64076, Invertebrata: comparative, experimental morphology, physiology and pathology - Insecta: physiology
  • Ecology, Environmental Sciences
  • Freshwater Ecology
  • Pollution Assessment Control and Management
  • Toxicology
  • space‐for‐time substitution

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