The effect of salinity fluctuation in freshwater streams on the fecundity of post-diapause Chironomus dilutus

Emily Dobry, Grace Schoeniger, Samuel A. Nutile

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Much scientific research dedicated to understanding the effects of freshwater salinization caused by road de-icing salts has utilized static exposures, with many tests conducted at winter or spring temperatures. While relevant for lentic ecosystems, pulsed patterns of salinity occur in lotic environments, particularly in summer months where precipitation can decrease elevated salinity levels caused by retention of residual salts. The current study aimed to evaluate the effects of pulsed patterns of salinity on the emergence, sex ratio, and fecundity of Chironomus dilutus over two generations of laboratory exposure. Three road de-icing salt treatments, including a control, modeled after environmental monitoring data of two local streams, were used to determine the ecological effects of periodic declines in salinity on C. dilutus at summer temperatures. No significant effects were observed on emergence success or sex ratios within or across generations, but fecundity of C. dilutus in the high salt treatment was reduced regardless of generation (P < 2e−16), possibly due to increased osmoregulatory stress caused by increased salinities. The intermediate and decreasing salinities may account for the lack of negative effects on emergence success and sex ratios by protecting sensitive life stages. More research is needed on long-term effects of reduced fecundity on population viability. The current study suggests more research using a similar experimental design is needed to fully evaluate the influence of road de-icing salts in lotic environments, as static laboratory exposures may not accurately reflect environmental changes in salinity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)224-230
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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