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Fish on steroids: Temperature dependent effects of 17β-trenbolone on anti-predator, risk-taking and exploratory behaviours
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
School of Biological Sciences, Monash University, Victoria, Australia. Department of Biosciences, Åbo Academy University, Turku, Finland..
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Environmental Studies, SLU, Umeå, Sweden..
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Chemistry.
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2018 (English)In: Article in journal (Other academic) Submitted
Abstract [en]

Hormonal growth promoters (HGPs), widely used in beef cattle production globally, make their way into the environment as agricultural effluent—with potential impacts on aquatic ecosystems. One HPG of particular concern is 17β-trenbolone, which is persistent in freshwater habitats and can affect the development, morphology and reproductive behaviors of aquatic organisms. Despite this, few studies have investigated impacts of 17β-trenbolone on non-reproductive behaviors linked to growth and survival, like boldness and predator avoidance. None consider the interaction between 17β-trenbolone and other environmental stressors, such as temperature, although environmental challenges confronting animals in the wild seldom, if ever, occur in isolation. Accordingly, this study aimed to test the interactive effects of trenbolone and temperature on organismal behavior. To do this, eastern mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) were subjected to an environmentally-relevant concentration of 17β-trenbolone (≤ 5.1 ± 0.5 ng/L) or freshwater (i.e. control) for 21 days under one of two temperatures (20 and 30°C), after which the predator escape, boldness and exploration behavior of fish were tested. Predator escape behavior was assayed by subjecting fish to a simulated predator strike, while boldness and exploration were assessed in a separate maze experiment. We found that trenbolone exposure increased boldness behavior. Interestingly, some behavioural effects of trenbolone depended on temperature, sex, or both. Specifically, significant effects of trenbolone on male predator escape behavior were only noted at 30°C, with males becoming less reactive to the simulated threat. Further, in the maze experiment, trenbolone-exposed fish had a higher activity and explored the maze faster than control fish, but only at 20°C. We conclude that field detected concentrations of 17β-trenbolone can impact ecologically important behaviors of fish, and such effects can be temperature dependent. Such findings underscore the importance of considering the potentially interactive effects of other environmental stressors when investigating behavioural effects of environmental contaminants.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
Keywords [en]
Anti-predator behavior, Behavioural ecotoxicology, Endocrine disrupting chemicals, Synthetic androgenic anabolic steroid, Temperature
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Ecotoxicology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-151136OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-151136DiVA, id: diva2:1242445
Available from: 2018-08-28 Created: 2018-08-28 Last updated: 2018-08-28
In thesis
1. Fish on drugs: behaviour modifying contaminants in aquatic ecosystems
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Fish on drugs: behaviour modifying contaminants in aquatic ecosystems
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Contamination of surface waters is a worldwide problem. One group of emerging contaminants that reach aquatic ecosystems via sewage treatment plant effluents and agricultural run-offs is pharmaceuticals. Impacts of pharmaceuticals on the behaviour of aquatic organisms can have important ecological and evolutionary consequences because behaviour is directly linked to fitness. The aim of my doctoral thesis was to increase our understanding of the fate and effects of behaviour modifying drugs in aquatic ecosystems.

While studying an aquatic ecosystem spiked with pharmaceuticals, I found that the benthic species at the bottom of the food chain were the main receivers (highest bioaccumulation factor; BAF) while fish at the top of the food web had the lowest uptake of the studied drugs. Interestingly, the BAF of the anxiolytic pharmaceutical oxazepam, increased in fish (perch; Perca fluviatilis) over the study period, suggesting that this drug can be transferred between trophic levels in food webs. To assess whether oxazepam could affect growth and survival in perch, I exposed perch populations to oxazepam for 2-months in a replicated pond experiment. In this study, I tested the hypothesis that oxazepam exposed perch would grow faster but also suffer from increased predation. Oxazepam has been shown previously to induce ‘anti-anxiety’ behaviours that improve foraging but may also make individuals more exposed to predators. In contrast, I found no statistically significant increase in growth and mortality in the exposed perch. However, the study revealed that the natural predator of perch (pike; Esox lucius) became less effective at catching prey when exposed to oxazepam. This exposure effect on predation efficiency likely contributed to the absence of predation effects in the exposed ponds. In two following laboratory studies I investigated effects of behaviour modifying drugs (oxazepam and a growth hormone, 17β-trenbolone) in combination with additional stressors (temperature and predator cues). Drug and temperature interactions were found for 17β-trenbolone, where water temperature interacted with treatment to induce changes in predator escape behaviour, boldness, and exploration in mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki). However, in the other study, we found that oxazepam, temperature, and predator cue all affected perch ‘anti-anxiety’ behaviours, but independently.

I conclude that pharmaceuticals can alter ecologically important behaviours in fish, and that at least some, can accumulate in aquatic food webs. It seems that in situ effects of behaviour modifying drugs in aquatic ecosystems depend on both species-specific responses and abiotic interactions. As such, it is far from straightforward to predict net ecosystem effects based on experiments conducted using single species and static conditions. Future studies should assess the effects of pharmaceuticals in aquatic ecosystems under more complex conditions for us to gain a better understanding of what consequences behaviour modifying drugs have in the environment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2018. p. 33
Keywords
Aquatic ecosystems, Behavioural effects, Ecotoxicology, Endocrine disruptors, Pharmaceuticals, Interaction effects
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Ecotoxicology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-151138 (URN)978-91-7601-912-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-09-21, Lilla Hörsalen, KB.E3.01, KBC-huset, Umeå, 12:00 (English)
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Available from: 2018-08-31 Created: 2018-08-28 Last updated: 2018-08-30Bibliographically approved

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Lagesson, AnnelieBrodin, TomasFick, JerkerKlaminder, Jonatan

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