Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 3862–3868 | Cite as

Effects of neonicotinoids on the emergence and composition of chironomids in the Prairie Pothole Region

  • Nate WilliamsEmail author
  • Jon Sweetman
Research Article


The use of neonicotinoid pesticides is widespread throughout agricultural regions, including the Prairie Pothole Region of North America. The occurrence of these pesticides to the abundant adjacent wetlands can result in impacts on nontarget insects, and cascading effects through wetland ecosystems. In the current study, field-based mesocosms were used to investigate the effects of multiple pulses of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid on the emergence and chironomid community composition, in an effort to simulate episodic rain events to Prairie Pothole Wetlands. Sediments from two local wetlands were placed into the mesocosm tanks and three imidacloprid pulses added, each 1 week apart at nominal concentrations of 0.2, 2.0, and 20 μg/L. Overall, a significant decrease in the emergence of adult chironomids was observed within the 2.0 μg/L and greater concentrations, with the subfamilies Chironominae and Tanypodinae showing a greater sensitivity than the members of the subfamily Orthocladiinae. The chironomid community also had a dose-related response, followed by a recovery of the community composition near the end of the experiment. Our results provide additional evidence that repeated pulses of imidacloprid may have effects on chironomids and other sensitive aquatic insects living within Prairie Pothole Wetlands, resulting in reduced food availability. We stress the need for continued monitoring of US surface waters for neonicotinoid compounds and the continuation of additional experiments looking into the impacts on aquatic communities.


Aquatic invertebrates Neonicotinoids Prairie Pothole Wetlands Pesticides 



We would like to thank Aiden Resh, Katherine Millette, Sara Bachmeier, Madison Sager, and Reed Junco for their assistance in data collection and lab processing of samples. We would also like to acknowledge the assistance provided by Dr. Leonard Ferrington and his expertise in chironomid identification and verification of samples. Also, I would like to acknowledge Dr. Ken Grafton for access and space to conduct the mesocosm study on the North Dakota Agricultural Experimental Station grounds.

Supplementary material

11356_2018_3683_MOESM1_ESM.docx (15 kb)
Supplementary table 1 (DOCX 15 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesNorth Dakota State UniversityFargoUSA
  2. 2.Environmental and Conservation Sciences ProgramNorth Dakota State UniversityFargoUSA

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