Sex in troubled waters: Widespread agricultural contaminant disrupts reproductive behaviour in fish

MG Bertram, Minna Saaristo, JB Baumgartner, CP Johnstone, M Allinson, G Allinson, Wong BBM

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Chemical pollution is a pervasive and insidious agent of environmental change. One class of chemical pollutant threatening ecosystems globally is the endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). The capacity of EDCs to disrupt development and reproduction is well established, but their effects on behaviour have received far less attention. Here, we investigate the impact of a widespread androgenic EDC on reproductive behaviour in the guppy, Poecilia reticulate. We found that short-term exposure of male guppies to an environmentally relevant concentration of 17 beta-trenbolone a common environmental pollutant associated with livestock production influenced the amount of male courtship and forced copulatory behaviour (sneaking) performed toward females, as well as the receptivity of females toward exposed males. Exposure to 17 beta-trenbolone was also associated with greater male mass. However, no effect of female exposure to 17 beta-trenbolone was detected on female reproductive behaviour, indicating sex-specific vulnerability at this dosage. Our study is the first to show altered male reproductive behaviour following exposure to an environmentally realistic concentration of 17 beta-trenbolone, demonstrating the possibility of widespread disruption of mating systems of aquatic organisms by common agricultural contaminants.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)85–91
Number of pages7
JournalHormones and Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • 17 beta-Trenbolone
  • Behavioural ecotoxicology
  • EDC
  • Endocrine disrupting chemical
  • Guppy
  • Hormonal growth promotant
  • Poecilia reticulata
  • Reproductive behaviour
  • Sexual selection
  • Trenbolone acetate

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