Pesticide pollution can alter parasite transmission, but scientists are unaware if effects of pesticides on parasite exposure and host susceptibility (i.e. infection risk given exposure) can be generalised within a community context. Using replicated temperate pond communities, we evaluate effects of 12 pesticides, nested in four pesticide classes (chloroacetanilides, triazines, carbamates organophosphates) and two pesticide types (herbicides, insecticides) applied at standardised environmental concentrations on larval amphibian exposure and susceptibility to trematode parasites. Most of the variation in exposure and susceptibility occurred at the level of pesticide class and type, not individual compounds. The organophosphate class of insecticides increased snail abundance (first intermediate host) and thus trematode exposure by increasing mortality of snail predators (top–down mechanism). While a similar pattern in snail abundance and trematode exposure was observed with triazine herbicides, this effect was driven by increases in snail resources (periphytic algae, bottom–up mechanism). Additionally, herbicides indirectly increased host susceptibility and trematode infections by (1) increasing time spent in susceptible early developmental stages and (2) suppressing tadpole immunity. Understanding generalisable effects associated with contaminant class and type on transmission is critical in reducing complexities in predicting disease dynamics in at-risk host populations.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics