Impacts of the antidepressant fluoxetine on the anti-predator behaviours of wild guppies (Poecilia reticulata)

A1 Journal article (refereed)

Internal Authors/Editors

Publication Details

List of Authors: Minna Saaristo, Alisha McLennan, Christopher P.Johnstone, Bradley O.Clarke, Bob B.M.Wong
Publisher: Elsevier
Publication year: 2017
Journal: Aquatic Toxicology
Volume number: 183
Start page: 38
End page: 45
eISSN: 1879-1514


Chemical pollution from pharmaceuticals is increasingly recognised as a
major threat to aquatic communities. One compound of great concern is
fluoxetine, which is one of the most widely prescribed psychoactive
drugs in the world and frequently detected in the environment. The aim
of this study was to investigate the effects of 28-d fluoxetine exposure
at two environmentally relevant levels (measured concentrations: 4 ng/L and 16 ng/L) on anti-predator behaviour in wild guppies (Poecilia reticulata).
This was achieved by subjecting fluoxetine-exposed and unexposed
guppies to a simulated bird strike and recording their subsequent
behavioural responses. We found that exposure to fluoxetine affected the
anti-predator behaviour of guppies, with exposed fish remaining
stationary for longer (i.e. ‘freezing’ behaviour) after the simulated
strike and also spending more time under plant cover. By contrast,
control fish were significantly more active and explored the tank more,
as indicated by the distance covered per minute over the period fish
spent swimming. Furthermore, behavioural shifts were sex-dependent, with
evidence of a non-monotonic dose-response among the fluoxetine-exposed
fish. This is one of the first studies to show that exposure to
environmentally relevant concentrations of fluoxetine can alter the
anti-predator behaviour of adult fish. In addition to the obvious
repercussions for survival, impaired anti-predator behaviour can have
direct impacts on fitness and influence the overall population dynamics
of species.

Last updated on 2019-22-08 at 07:27