Terrestrial Invertebrate Arsenic Accumulation Associated with an Arsenic Hyperaccumulating Fern, Pteris vittata (Polypodiales: Pteridaceae)

B. D. Jaffe, M. E. Ketterer, R. W. Hofstetter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Arsenic (As) can play an important role in the contamination of soils, waters, and air. The toxicity of As to most organisms is well established, but little is known about the interactions between environmental As and terrestrial invertebrates and the fate of As through trophic levels. Pteris vittata L. (Polypodiales: Pteridaceae), a fern that hyperaccumulates arsenic, serves as a potential mechanism to facilitate interactions between environmental arsenic and other biota. We compared invertebrate arsenic concentrations (hereafter as [As]) and bioaccumulation factors associated with soil and fern [As] to elucidate relationships between invertebrate and environmental As exposure. We collected invertebrates in pitfall traps from field sites associated with P. vittata, and identified them to order for whole body arsenic analysis and subsequently family for classification into functional feeding groups. We found that overall [As] in invertebrates increased with soil [As], but not with fern [As]. The absence of a relationship between fern [As] and invertebrate [As] may indicate invertebrates are avoiding the fern. Individual taxonomic groups significantly differed in whole body [As], and individual taxa also varied in their relationship between whole body [As] relative to soil and fern [As]. Overall invertebrate abundance decreased as invertebrate [As] load increased but varied across taxa. One particular herbivore, Callopistria floridensis (Florida fern caterpillar), associated with relatively low environmental As exposure contained over 4,000 mg kg1 As. Our results show that As bioaccumulates into higher trophic levels and invertebrate body [As] covary with exposure to naturally occurring environmental [As] associated with P. vittata.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1306-1315
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Entomology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Callopistria floridensis
  • Florida fern caterpillar
  • Pteris vittata
  • arsenic
  • bioaccumulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Insect Science


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