Organochlorine compounds (OCs) persist in the environment and can impair development and reproduction in birds, fish, mammals, and other wildlife. However, despite concerns about amphibian population declines and developmental deformities, little is known about the impact of OCs or other pollutants on amphibian populations. In the current study, five polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-contaminated wetlands were surveyed for anuran densities relative to four uncontaminated sites. Despite our finding that sediments contained PCB concentrations toxic to some organisms, we found no significant correlation between anuran density or species richness and severity of PCB contamination. In the laboratory, tadpoles and eggs of Rana pipiens and Rana utricularia were negatively affected by PCB concentrations comparable to field levels. Ranid adults and larvae collected from contaminated field sites contained tissue total PCB levels much lower than that of the sediments. Therefore, the apparent lack of population-level impact of PCBs in the field may be explained by limited contaminant accumulation, rather than low physiological sensitivity to chronic PCB exposure.
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