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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Antipredator phenotype in crucian carp altered by a psychoactive drug

Vinterstare, Jerker; Bronmark, Christer; Nilsson, P. Anders; Langerhans, R. Brian; Berglund, Olof; Orjes, Jennie; Brodin, Tomas; Fick, Jerker; Hulthen, Kaj;


Predator-inducible defenses constitute a widespread form of adaptive phenotypic plasticity, and such defenses have recently been suggested linked with the neuroendocrine system. The neuroendocrine system is a target of endocrine disruptors, such as psychoactive pharmaceuticals, which are common aquatic contaminants. We hypothesized that exposure to an antidepressant pollutant, fluoxetine, influences the physiological stress response in our model species, crucian carp, affecting its behavioral and morphological responses to predation threat. We examined short- and long-term effects of fluoxetine and predator exposure on behavior and morphology in crucian carp. Seventeen days of exposure to a high dose of fluoxetine (100 mu g/L) resulted in a shyer phenotype, regardless of the presence/absence of a pike predator, but this effect disappeared after long-term exposure. Fluoxetine effects on morphological plasticity were context-dependent as a low dose (1 mu g/L) only influenced crucian carp body shape in pike presence. A high dose of fluoxetine strongly influenced body shape regardless of predator treatment. Our results highlight that environmental pollution by pharmaceuticals could disrupt physiological regulation of ecologically important inducible defenses.


antipredator traits; inducible defenses; phenotypic plasticity; psychoactive drugs; serotonergic system; SSRI

Published in

Ecology and Evolution

2021, volume: 11, number: 14, pages: 9435-9446
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Lund University
Bronmark, Christer
Lund University
Nilsson, P. Anders
Lund University
Langerhans, R. Brian
University of North Carolina
Berglund, Olof
Lund University
Orjes, Jennie
Lund University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
Fick, Jerker
Umeå University
Hulthen, Kaj
Lund University

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG14 Life below water

UKÄ Subject classification


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