The influence of nonylphenol on life-history of the earthworm Dendrobaena octaedra Savigny: Linking effects from the individual- to the population-level

T. H. Widarto, M. Holmstrup, V. E. Forbes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


We conducted a study to look at the effects of nonylphenol (NP) on the life-history of the parthenogenetic earthworm, Dendrobaena octaedra. During a 196-day study, we observed that the growth rate of juveniles and the percentage of worms producing cocoons were the only traits significantly affected by NP, while the total number of cocoons produced was marginally affected. Despite some fairly large changes in the average values of individual life-history traits caused by NP, the effects were difficult to detect statistically due to large interindividual variability. A declining trend was observed for population growth rate (λ) with increasing NP concentration, but the decline was not statistically significant. The percent reduction in λ was less than the percent reduction in the most sensitive life-history trait (fecundity). An elasticity analysis showed that λ was more sensitive to changes in survival than to changes in reproductive traits. However, neither juvenile nor adult survival were affected by NP, and decomposition analysis showed that the minor changes in λ were mainly caused by effects of NP on time to first reproduction, time between reproduction events and fecundity. The present study suggests that extrapolation from laboratory studies to population effects in the field may be greatly enhanced by combining ecotoxicological and demographic methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-159
Number of pages13
JournalEcotoxicology and Environmental Safety
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported financially by the QUE (Quality for Undergraduate Education) Project under World Bank Loan Scheme to the Indonesian Government as a doctoral stipend to T.H.W. Most of the work was conducted at the Ecotoxicology Laboratory, Department of Biology and Chemistry, Roskilde University, Denmark, and Department of Terrestrial Ecology (TERI), National Environmental Research Institute, Denmark. The authors thank P.H. Krogh and L. Birkso who provided logistical support during the work at TERI. We also thank to Z. Gavor, K.K. Jacobsen, E. Jørgensen, T. Sørensen, and L. Maarup for helping with laboratory work.

Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Decomposition and elasticity analysis
  • Dendrobaena octaedra
  • Nonylphenol
  • Population growth rate


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