Year

2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Health Sciences

Abstract

Fipronil is a new-generation pesticide aerially applied in semi-arid and agricultural areas of Australia to control locust outbreaks. Seasonal conditions that give rise to locust plagues are also ideal for breeding birds, with over 100 different avian species observed in areas of locust control operations. Despite the potential for exposure, there is very little research regarding the toxicological effects of fipronil in birds. Available avian toxicity information shows a high species-specific variability in fipronil sensitivity across the few species tested, making it extremely difficult to predict the toxicity of fipronil on unstudied species at high risk of exposure in the wild.

The aim of this thesis was to increase our understanding of the impact of fipronil on native birds at risk of exposure as a result of locust-control spraying. This was done firstly by examining the toxicity, effects, and duration of symptoms following exposure to fipronil and it’s major metabolite, fipronil-sulfone, in sensitive and non-sensitive avian species; secondly by evaluating the metabolism of fipronil in a selected bird species to gain insight into the mechanisms underlying variation in species sensitivity; and thirdly by examining whether exposure to fipronil at sub-lethal levels adversely affects exposed birds and their offspring.

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