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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Psychoactive pollution suppresses individual differences in fish behaviour

Polverino, Giovanni; Martin, Jake M.; Bertram, Michael; Soman, Vrishin R.; Tan, Hung; Brand, Jack A.; Mason, Rachel T.; Wong, Bob B. M.;

Abstract

Environmental contamination by pharmaceuticals is global, substantially altering crucial behaviours in animals and impacting on their reproduction and survival. A key question is whether the consequences of these pollutants extend beyond mean behavioural changes, restraining differences in behaviour between individuals. In a controlled, two-year, multigenerational experiment with independent mesocosm populations, we exposed guppies (Poecilia reticulata) to environmentally realistic levels of the ubiquitous pollutant fluoxetine (Prozac). Fish (unexposed: n = 59, low fluoxetine: n = 57, high fluoxetine: n = 58) were repeatedly assayed on four separate occasions for activity and risk-taking behaviour. Fluoxetine homogenized individuals' activity, with individual variation in populations exposed to even low concentrations falling to less than half that in unexposed populations. To understand the proximate mechanism underlying these changes, we tested the relative contribution of variation within and between individuals to the overall decline in individual variation. We found strong evidence that fluoxetine erodes variation in activity between but not within individuals, revealing the hidden consequences of a ubiquitous contaminant on phenotypic variation in fish—likely to impair adaptive potential to environmental change.

Keywords

animal personality; behavioural plasticity; behavioural types; ecotoxicology; individuality; pharmaceuticals

Published in

Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

2021, volume: 288, number: 1944, article number: 20202294

Authors' information

Polverino, Giovanni
University of Western Australia
Monash University
Monash University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
Soman, Vrishin R.
University of Western Australia
Tan, Hung
Monash University
Brand, Jack A.
Monash University
Mason, Rachel T.
Monash University
Wong, Bob B. M.
Monash University

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG14 Life below water

UKÄ Subject classification

Behavioral Sciences Biology
Ecology
Zoology

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2020.2294

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/110758