A review of non-destructive biomonitoring techniques to assess the impacts of pollution on reproductive health in frogs and toads

Frances Orton, Bethany Roberts-Rhodes, Catherine Whatley, Charles R. Tyler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
43 Downloads (Pure)


In anuran amphibians (frogs and toads), evidence linking pollution to population declines is limited, in particular through impaired reproduction. Here we review the evidence for pollutant-induced alterations on reproductive endpoints in wild anurans with a particular focus on the application of non-destructive endpoints including on sex ratios, male reproductive phenotypes (data are too scarce for females) and reproductive outputs (reflective of mating success). Data evidencing alterations in sex ratio in wild anurans are scarce, however, both feminisation and masculinisation in response to pollution have been reported (seven studies). Male nuptial pad morphology and calling behaviour display high sensitivity to pollutant-exposure and are important features determining male breeding success, however there is considerable variation in these endpoints and inconsistencies in the responses of them to pollution are reported in wild anurans. Data for clutch size are insufficient to assess sensitivity to pollutants (five studies only). However, hatch success and offspring fitness (tadpole survival/development) are sensitive to pollution, with clear linkages to population stability. In conclusion, there are a wide range of non destructive measures with good potential for application to assess/monitor reproductive health in wild anurans, however, a greater understanding of pollutant effects on these endpoints is needed. There measures deserve wider application as they are relatively simple and inexpensive to implement, and as they can be applied non-destructively are widely applicable to our declining anuran populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115163
JournalEcotoxicology and Environmental Safety
Early online date22 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023


  • Anuran
  • Ecotoxicology
  • Endocrine disruption
  • Frog
  • Pollutant
  • Reproduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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