First evidence of the effects of agricultural activities on gonadal form and function in Rhinella fernandezae and Dendropsophus sanborni (Amphibia: Anura) from Entre Ríos Province, Argentina

Laura C. Sanchez, Rafael C. Lajmanovich, Paola M. Peltzer, Adriana S. Manzano, Celina M. Junges, Andrés M. Attademo


The relationship between male gonadal abnormalities and habitats with different degrees of agricultural activities was quantified in two anuran species, Rhinella fernandezae and Dendropsophus sanborni. The study sites were selected along a gradient of increasing agricultural land use in south-western Entre Ríos province (Argentina): an agroecosystem, a natural wetland (a non-agricultural site adjacent to monoculture zones), and a natural forest (not associated with agriculture). Rhinella fernandezae and D. sanborni were manually captured from each environment during field surveys. A scaled mass index (MI) was evaluated for each animal. Specimens of R. fernandezae from the agroecosystem and the natural wetland site presented poorly developed seminiferous tubules, lower testicular volume, and a lower number of seminiferous tubules, primary spermatogonia, and spermatids than specimens from the natural forest site. Additionally, we observed fewer primary spermatocytes in the agroecosystem group than in the natural forest group. Individuals of D. sanborni from the agroecosystem and the natural wetland site presented poorly developed tubules, higher proportions of irregularly shaped testes, and a reduced number of primary and secondary spermatogonia compared with specimens from natural forest sites. Consequently, the affected anurans are likely to have reduced reproductive success. We suggest that agrochemical use may be associated with decreased testicular development and function in both R. fernandezae and D. sanborni occurring in agroecosystems and nearby environments. Buffer zones are needed to prevent contamination, preserve wildlife, and enhance the conservation value of pristine natural forests.

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