Developmental Stability in Amphibians as a Biological Indicator of Chemical Contamination and Other Environmental Stressors, SEER project of SIP: Experimental Program To Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) From The Commonwealth Of KentuckyEPA Grant Number: R829419E03
Title: Developmental Stability in Amphibians as a Biological Indicator of Chemical Contamination and Other Environmental Stressors, SEER project of SIP: Experimental Program To Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) From The Commonwealth Of Kentucky
Investigators: Whiteman, Howard H. , Loganathan, Bommanna G.
Institution: Murray State University
EPA Project Officer: Hunt, Sherri
Project Period: October 1, 2002 through September 30, 2004 (Extended to September 30, 2005)
Project Amount: $165,775
RFA: EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) (2000) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: EPSCoR (The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research)
Previous research in our laboratories has shown that developmental stability (as measured by fluctuating asymmetry) is correlated to human-induced stressors in two amphibian species (Whiteman unpubl. data). We propose to continue our studies of developmental stability as a biological indicator of stress in amphibian populations, in an effort to improve the ability of biologists to evaluate the health of these populations, the surrounding ecosystem, and the possible environmental risks to humans. Although we propose to evaluate a wide range of possible stressors, a major thrust of this project is to correlate amphibian developmental stability with contaminant levels accumulated in their tissues. Surprisingly, although many studies have used developmental stability as an indicator of such contamination, none of these studies have concentrated on amphibians. We hypothesize that amphibian developmental stability will decrease with increased levels of anthropogenic (contaminants, land use practices) and natural (population size and density) stressors.
To test this hypothesis, we will sample several species of amphibians, including both aquatic and terrestrial life stages, and taxa from various trophic levels which vary in their potential exposure to stressors. In this way we will be able to discover how well developmental stability operates as a bio-indicator across a wide range of conditions. We will measure developmental stability and various natural and anthropogenic stressors, and use the results to assess the utility of developmental stability as a biological indicator in amphibians.
Development of these methods will allow scientists to determine the population health of a critical group of organisms, to utilize amphibian development as an inexpensive yet accurate proxy for measuring the effects of stressors such as industrial and agricultural pollutants, and will provide methods to separate the effects of anthropogenic stressors from natural ones. This research will thus be valuable to the estimation and management of ecosystem and human health.