Effects of neurotoxicant exposure on fitness-related traits of the western fence lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)
Holem, Ryan Richard
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Reptiles are the least studied vertebrates in ecotoxicology and the effects of repeated pollutant exposure on fitness-related traits such as growth, locomotor performance, and behavior have rarely been evaluated. We hypothesized that acute or repeated exposure to neurotoxic metals and pesticides could influence fitness-related traits such as locomotor performance, growth, and food consumption of reptiles. To test this hypothesis, we exposed western fence lizards (Sceloporus occidentalis) to two common and widely studied neurotoxic contaminants, malathion and lead (Pb). In general, fitness-related traits were not significantly influenced by neurotoxicant exposure. However, dose-dependent mortality, clinical symptoms of neurotoxicant poisoning, and slightly reduced food consumption were observed in some treatment groups. Thus, we conclude that S. occidentalis is as sensitive to neurotoxicants as other terrestrial vertebrates and certain fitness-related traits (e.g., locomotor performance) may not be sensitive organism-level indicators of neurotoxicant exposure.