Two stressors are far deadlier than one

Andrew Sih, Alison M. Bell, Jacob L. Kerby

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review


Natural organisms often face a barrage of stressors, both natural and human induced. Two known stressors that impact amphibian populations are pesticides and predators. Recent work by Relyea and by Mills and Relyea reveals strikingly strong, synergistic negative effects of these two factors on amphibian larvae. Adding predation risk on top of supposedly sublethal concentrations of a common pesticide caused a massive increase in larval mortality. Interestingly, the increased mortality did not require exposure to actual predation. That is, simply the 'smell of danger' (predator chemical cues) caused 80-90% of larvae that were held in otherwise 'safe' levels of the pesticide to die. Notably, this effect occurred in some species, but not in others. These new studies highlight the need for further interdisciplinary work on the conditions under which combinations of stressors have particularly strong negative effects on natural organisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)274-276
Number of pages3
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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