Anthropomorphic effects are changing the planet, and therefore, organisms are being exposed to many new biotic and abiotic stressors. Exposure to multiple stressors can affect organisms in ways that are different than the sum of their individual effects, and these interactions are often difficult to predict. Atrazine and paraquat are two of the most widely used herbicides in the United States, and are individually known to increase oxidative damage, affect dopaminergic functioning, reduce longevity, and alter motor ability in non-target organisms. We measured the effects of individual and combined exposure to low doses of atrazine and paraquat on climbing ability and longevity of Drosophila melanogaster. Atrazine and paraquat interact to affect D. melanogaster climbing ability and longevity in different ways. Atrazine appeared to have a weak mitigative effect against the decrease in climbing ability caused by paraquat. In contrast, combined exposure to atrazine and paraquat had detrimental synergistic effects on female longevity. Overall, this study shows that atrazine and paraquat can interact and that it is important to measure several traits when assessing the consequences of exposure to multiple stressors. Future studies should continue to assess the impacts of stressor interactions on organisms, as many combinations have never been examined.
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