The Royal Society

Supplementary material from "Comparability of comparative toxicity: insect sensitivity to imidacloprid reveals huge variations across species but also within species"

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Pesticides have been identified as major drivers of insect biodiversity loss. Thus, the study of their effects on non-pest insect species has attracted a lot of attention in recent decades. In general toxicology, the ‘gold standard’ to assess the toxicity of a substance is to measure mass-specific LD50 (i.e. median lethal dose per unit body mass). In entomology, reviews attempting to compare these data across all available studies are lacking. To fill this gap in knowledge, we performed a systematic review of the lethality of imidacloprid for adult insects. Imidacloprid is possibly the most extensively studied insecticide in recent times, yet we found that little is comparable across studies, due to both methodological divergence and missing estimates of body mass. By accounting whenever possible for body mass, we show how imidacloprid sensitivity spans across an apparent range of approximately 6 orders of magnitude across insect species. Very high variability within species can also be observed due to differences in exposure methods and observation time. We suggest that a more comparable and comprehensive approach has both biological and economic relevance. Ultimately, this would help to identify differences that could direct research towards preventing non-target species from being negatively affected.


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