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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

The endocrine disruptor 17β-trenbolone alters the relationship between pre- and post-copulatory sexual traits in male mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki)

Tan, Hung; Bertram, Michael; Martin, Jake M.; Ecker, Tiarne E.; Hannington, Stephanie L.; Saaristo, Minna; O’Bryan, Moira K.; Wong, Bob B.M.


It is now well-established that reproduction in wildlife can be disrupted by anthropogenic environmental changes, such as chemical pollution. However, very little is known about how these pollutants might affect the interplay between pre- and post-copulatory mechanisms of sexual selection. Here, we investigated the impacts of 21-day exposure of male eastern mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) to a field-realistic level (average measured concentration: 11 ng/L) of the endocrine-disrupting chemical 17β-trenbolone (17β-TB) on pre- and post-copulatory reproductive traits. We examined male reproductive behaviour by testing the time spent near a female behind a partition, as well as the number of copulation attempts made, and the time spent chasing a female in a free-swimming context. Sperm traits were also assayed for all males. We found that exposure of male fish to 17β-TB altered the relationship between key pre- and post-copulatory reproductive traits. Furthermore, 17β-TB-exposed males had, on average, a higher percentage of motile sperm, and performed fewer copulation attempts than unexposed males. However, there was no overall effect of 17β-TB exposure on either the time males spent associating with or chasing females. Taken together, our findings demonstrate the potential for chemical pollutants to affect both pre- and post-copulatory sexual traits, and the interplay between these mechanisms of sexual selection in contaminated wildlife.


Androgen; Behavioural ecotoxicology; Endocrine-disrupting chemical; Hormonal growth promotant; Sperm; Trenbolone

Published in

Science of the Total Environment
2021, Volume: 790, article number: 148028

      SLU Authors

      Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG14 Life below water

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Environmental Sciences

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