An assessment of direct and indirect effects of two herbicides on aquatic communities

Simone Hasenbein, Sharon P. Lawler, Richard E Connon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Herbicides are often detected in watersheds at concentrations that are toxic to phytoplankton, potentially causing indirect effects on higher trophic organisms. The long-term effects of 5 applications over 30 d of binary mixtures of the herbicides diuron and hexazinone were assessed at "low" and "high" concentrations typically found in the environment, using mesocosms. Sixteen of 95 phytoplankton taxa, 3 of 18 zooplankton taxa, and 6 of 14 macroinvertebrate taxa responded negatively to contaminant exposures. Herbicide applications altered the phytoplankton community structure. Relative abundance of Cyanophyceae decreased following 5 applications from 52.1% in the control to 37.3% in the low treatment and to 25.9% in the high treatment, while Chlorophyceae increased to 50.6% in the low treatment and to 61.7% in the high treatment compared with the control (39.7%). Chlorophyceae had the greatest number of affected species (8), whereas 1 species within the Cyanophyceae was negatively affected on more than 1 sampling day. Further, chlorophyll a was reduced on 4 and 5 d out of the 8 total sampling days in the low and high treatments, respectively, compared with the control. These results highlight that integrating multiple taxa and contaminants with long-term exposures in ecological risk assessments of herbicides can facilitate the ability to make predictive and mechanistic generalizations about the role of herbicides in shaping patterns of species abundance in natural systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
StateAccepted/In press - 2017


  • Algae
  • Aquatic toxicology
  • Chlorophyll a
  • Food web
  • Mesocosm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'An assessment of direct and indirect effects of two herbicides on aquatic communities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this