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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2019

Field-realistic antidepressant exposure disrupts group foraging dynamics in mosquitofish

Martin, Jake M.; Saaristo, Minna; Tan, Hung; Bertram, Michael G.; Nagarajan-Radha, Venkatesh; Dowling, Damian K.; Wong, Bob B. M.


Psychoactive pollutants, such as antidepressants, are increasingly detected in the environment. Mounting evidence suggests that such pollutants can disrupt the behaviour of non-target species. Despite this, few studies have considered how the response of exposed organisms might be mediated by social context. To redress this, we investigated the impacts of two environmentally realistic concentrations of a pervasive antidepressant pollutant, fluoxetine, on foraging behaviour in fish (Gambusia holbrooki), tested individually or in a group. Fluoxetine did not alter behaviour of solitary fish. However, in a group setting, fluoxetine exposure disrupted the frequency of aggressive interactions and food consumption, with observed effects being contingent on both the mean weight of group members and the level of within-group variation in weight. Our results suggest that behavioural tests in social isolation may not accurately predict the environmental risk of chemical pollutants for group-living species and highlight the potential for social context to mediate the effects of psychoactive pollutants in exposed wildlife.


animal behaviour; feeding; fluoxetine; mosquitofish; pharmaceutical pollution; shoal

Published in

Biology Letters
2019, Volume: 15, number: 11, article number: 20190615
Publisher: ROYAL SOC

    SLU Authors

    • Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG6 Clean water and sanitation

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Environmental Sciences
      Behavioral Sciences Biology

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