Research efforts into the potential side-effects of pesticides on beneficial organisms have focused on temperate test species and conditions. There is thus a need for studies into the ecotoxicity of a vaster range of pesticides under tropical conditions. The present study therefore aimed to compare the acute and chronic toxicity of the fungicide carbendazim to the earthworm Eisenia fetida under tropical and temperate conditions. To this end, laboratory toxicity tests were conducted with a tropical and European strain of E. fetida, using different artificial (OECD and TAS) and natural (LUFA and TNS) soils, and under different test temperatures (20 °C and 28 °C). In the acute lethality tests with artificial soils, the tropical strain of E. fetida was three to four order of magnitude less sensitive than the European strain, which is ascribed to the higher test temperature and (hence) higher microbial activity/pesticide degradation. The tropical strain was particularly sensitive in the tropical natural soil, which was attributed to the low pH (3.9) of this soil. The chronic toxicity tests overall also showed a lower sensitivity of the tropical strain on reproduction. These findings thus support the use of toxicity data generated under temperate conditions in tropical pesticide effect assessments. However, intensive agricultural practices in the tropics may dictate that exposure levels (and hence potentially also risks) are higher.
- Soil properties
- Terrestrial risk assessment