Increasing evidence suggests that contaminants in the environment can have important consequences on organismal interactions. While we have a good understanding of the lethal effects of contaminants on organisms, we have a weak understanding of how contaminants can affect organisms by altering the interactions that they have with other species in the community. Using tadpoles of two anuran species (Bullfrogs, Lithobates [Rana] catesbeianus; Green Frogs, L. clamitans), we investigated the effects of low nominal concentrations (1 and 10 ppb) of two pesticides (malathion and endosulfan) on tadpole activity and survival when exposed to four predator treatments (no predators; water bugs, Belostoma flumineum; newts, Notophthalmus viridescens; and dragonfly larvae, Anax junius). In both anuran species, adding predators reduced tadpole activity and survival, with increasing rates of mortality occurring with water bugs, newts, and dragonflies, respectively. Additionally, the highest concentration of endosulfan caused tadpole mortality after 48 hrs. Most significant, tadpole species also experienced interactive effects of predators and pesticides on survival after 48 hrs. In Bullfrog treatments, all predators reduced the amount of tadpole mortality when exposed to endosulfan. In Green Frogs, additive negative effects occurred, except that newts increased the tadpole mortality when exposed to endosulfan. Our findings illustrate that pesticide effects on predator–prey interactions are often complex and have the potential to alter aquatic community composition.
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Vol. 2013 • No. 4