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Patterns of Development and Abnormalities among Tadpoles in a Constructed Wetland Receiving Treated Wastewater

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D. B. Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, and GLIER, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada
* Corresponding author e-mail: [email protected]
†D. B. Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia.
‡Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, University of Georgia.
§GLIER, University of Windsor.
Cite this: Environ. Sci. Technol. 2010, 44, 13, 4862–4868
Publication Date (Web):June 11, 2010
Copyright © 2010 American Chemical Society

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    Constructed wetlands are promoted for effectiveness at treating wastewater and potential value as wildlife habitat; however, wildlife performance studies in treated wastewater wetlands are limited. We used repeated surveys of larval amphibians along three wetland systems and four reference sites to test the hypothesis that bullfrog tadpoles exposed to direct inputs of treated wastewater develop slower, show a higher frequency of abnormalities, and are smaller at metamorphosis compared to tadpoles from reference ponds. Bullfrog tadpoles from wastewater wetlands were similar in size at metamorphosis compared to tadpoles from reference sites; however, they did show a much higher frequency of abnormalities including severe edema, scoliosis, and extreme calcinosis of soft tissues. Calcinosis was novel to the literature on amphibian abnormalities, the most frequent abnormality, and restricted exclusively to treatment wetlands. Within the constructed wetlands, tadpole development was slower and the frequency of scoliosis and calcinosis was higher in those cells receiving direct inputs of treated wastewater. Our results suggest that portions of constructed wetlands that directly receive treated wastewater may be poor amphibian habitat.

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