Exposure to anthropogenic endocrine disruptors has been listed as one of several potential causes of amphibian declines in recent years. We examined gonads of 814 cricket frogs (Acris crepitans) collected in Illinois and deposited in museum collections to elucidate relationships between the decline of this species in Illinois and the spatial and temporal distribution of individuals with intersex gonads. Compared with the preorganochlorine era studied (1852-1929), the percentage of intersex cricket frogs increased during the period of industrial growth and initial uses of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) (1930-1945), was highest during the greatest manufacture and use of p,p-dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and PCBs (1946-1959), began declining with the increase in public concern and environmental regulations that reduced and then prevented sales of DDT in the United States (1960-1979), and continued to decline through the period of gradual reductions in environmental residues of organochlorine pesticides and PCBs in the midwestern United States (1980-2001). The proportion of intersex individuals among those frogs was highest in the heavily industrialized and urbanized northeastern portion of Illinois, intermediate in the intensively farmed central and northwestern areas, and lowest in the less intensively managed and ecologically more diverse southern part of the state. Records of deposits of cricket frog specimens into museum collections indicate a marked reduction in numbers from northeastern Illinois in recent decades. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that endocrine disruption contributed to the decline of cricket frogs in Illinois.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis