SREL Reprint #2144





Oral Deformities in Tadpoles (Rana catesbeiana) Associated with Coal Ash Deposition: Effects on Grazing Ability and Growth

Christopher L. Rowe*, Owen M. Kinney, Alison P. Fiori, Justin D. Congdon

The University of Georgia, Savannah River Ecology Laboratory
P.O. Drawer E, Aiken, SC, 29802, U.S.A.

*To whom correspondence should be addressed
Phone (803) 952-9041
FAX (803) 952-7413


1. Tadpoles of the bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) collected in a coal ash deposition basin (contaminated with As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Se and other elements) and a downstream drainage swamp had a reduced number of labial teeth and deformations of labial papillae when compared to tadpoles from reference areas. Tadpoles from the coal ash-affected areas had 90% fewer teeth in anterior tooth row number 2 and 40% fewer teeth in posterior row number 1 than reference animals. In the deposition basins, drainage swamp, and reference ponds, respectively, 96.2%, 85.1%, and 2.9% of tadpoles had oral deformities.
2. Tadpoles with deformities were less able to graze periphyton than were normal tadpoles, when tested in the laboratory. When presented with periphyton as a sole food source, tadpoles with deformed teeth had lower (negative) growth rates than those with normal teeth, which had slightly positive growth rates. When particulate food was also available (which does not require labial teeth for ingestion), tadpoles grew well regardless of deformities.
3. It appears that the morphological deformities associated with this coal ash-polluted environment can have ecological ramifications for the affected organisms by limiting the type of food that can be consumed and the ability to grow when multiple food types are unavailable.

SREL Reprint #2144

Rowe, C.L., O.M. Kinney, A.P. Fiori, and J.D. Congdon. 1996. Oral deformities in tadpoles (Rana Catesbeiana) associated with coal ash deposition: effects on grazing ability and growth. Freshwater Biology 36:723-730.


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