A new study has found that a toxic compound called methylmercury is common and widespread in adult amphibians in the US. The study tested over 3,200 amphibians representing 14 species and found that the amount of methylmercury varied depending on factors like diet, size, and sex. While some locations had barely detectable levels, others had levels well above what is considered safe for wildlife. It is believed that contaminants like mercury may be contributing to the decline of amphibians, which are the most endangered group of vertebrates in the world. Methylmercury is formed by microbes in water and is highly toxic to animals. It enters the food web and accumulates in animals as they continue to feed, making it difficult for them to get rid of it. However, scientists still have limited knowledge about the effects of methylmercury on amphibians. This study provides new data and methods that can help researchers understand the health effects and risks of mercury exposure for threatened and endangered species. The study also suggests that dragonfly larvae can be used as a stand-in to estimate methylmercury bioaccumulation in amphibians. Amphibians are particularly vulnerable to environmental contaminants due to their reliance on aquatic habitats. Understanding how exposure to contaminants varies is important for understanding their impact on amphibian populations.
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