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Neonicotinoids and other agricultural stressors collectively modify aquatic insect communities

Cavallaro, Michael C., Main, Anson R., Liber, Karsten, Phillips, Iain D., Headley, John V., Peru, Kerry M., Morrissey, Christy A.
Chemosphere 2019 v.226 pp. 945-955
Ceratopogonidae, Chironomidae, Muscidae, agricultural land, agricultural management, aquatic insects, canola, conservation buffers, growing season, habitat destruction, habitats, imidacloprid, insect communities, models, runoff, secondary productivity, toxicity, turbidity, vegetation, water quality, wetlands, Saskatchewan
Threats to wetland water quality and aquatic insect secondary production in agricultural landscapes are multifaceted and are known to vary spatially and temporally. We designed this study with the aim to disentangle the effects of multiple stressors on emerging aquatic insects from wetlands impacted by intensive agricultural practices and receiving runoff from neonicotinoid-treated canola. A total of 22 semi-permanent wetlands were monitored over two growing seasons (11 different wetlands per year) in central Saskatchewan, Canada. Over the two sampling years, dipterans from the families Chironomidae (60–67%), Muscidae (13–15%) and Ceratopogonidae (7–13%) made up the majority of emergent taxa, representing 80–95% of the total emergence. Multivariate ordination analyses of eight water quality and nine wetland habitat variables revealed that neonicotinoid concentration, turbidity, vegetation disturbance, and continuity of a vegetative grass buffer zone were significant factors influencing the aquatic insect taxa composition. Generalized linear mixed effects models indicated that total insect emergence over time was significantly predicted by neonicotinoid concentrations (imidacloprid toxic equivalency, TEQ) and vegetation disturbance. Higher neonicotinoid concentrations negatively affected insect emergence over time, whereas vegetation disturbance increased total emergence, likely due to the abundance of disturbance-tolerant taxa. Overall, we observed community-level responses driven by multiple indicators of wetland degradation (insecticides, turbidity, and vegetation disturbance). Collectively, these multivariate field data provide an in-depth understanding of how agricultural management practices, including neonicotinoid use, interact to shape wetland aquatic insect communities.