A sublethal dose of the neonicotinoid insecticide acetamiprid reduces sperm density in a songbird.
Environ Res. 2019 Oct ;177:108589. Epub 2019 Jul 16. PMID: 31330492
Farmland bird species are particularly exposed to pesticides through various pathways. Among pesticides, neonicotinoids insecticides are commonly used in agriculture, but their influence on bird reproductive capacities is poorly understood. In this study, we experimentally tested the effects of the neonicotinoid acetamiprid on House sparrows' sperm quality and oxidative status following ingestion of a low and field-realistic dose of the compound. To do so, 56 males were captured, held and orally dosed seven times over 19 days of experiment with either a saline solution (control) or an acetamiprid-saline solution, and sperm samples were retrieved before and after the experiment. The overall dose given to the birds corresponded to 0.5% of the LDfor the Zebra finch (5.7 mg/kg BW) spread into 7 separate doses and administered every three days over the entire duration of the study (ca. 0.07% LDper oral dose). Sperm mobility and sperm oxidative status were unaffected by the treatment, but sperm density was. Birds that received oral doses of acetamiprid suffered a significant decline in their sperm density compared to control birds. This result was confirmed by a significant decrease in the activity of the antioxidant enzyme SOD in the sperm of acetamiprid-dosed birds. These results provide the first evidence of sublethal toxicity of acetamiprid in a songbird and suggest that passerine birds' fertility may be negatively affected by very small doses of neonicotinoids in the wild.