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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Pharmaceutical pollution disrupts the behavior and predator-prey interactions of two widespread aquatic insects

Bose, Aneesh; McCallum, Erin; Avramović, Mladen; Bertram, Michael; Blom, Eva-Lotta; Cerveny, Daniel; Grønlund, Sara Nicoline; Leander, Johan; Lundberg, Petter; Martin, Jake; Michelangeli, Marcus; Persson, Lo; Brodin, Tomas


Pharmaceutical pollution represents a rapidly growing threat to ecosystems worldwide. Drugs are now commonly detected in the tissues of wildlife and have the potential to alter the natural expression of behavior, though relatively little is known about how pharmaceuticals impact predator-prey interactions. We conducted parallel laboratory experiments using larval odonates (dragonfly and damselfly nymphs) to investigate the effects of exposure to two pharmaceuticals, cetirizine and citalopram, and their mixture on the outcomes of predator-prey interactions. We found that exposure to both compounds elevated dragonfly activity and impacted their predation success and efficiency in complex ways. While exposure to citalopram reduced predation efficiency, exposure to cetirizine showed varied effects, with predation success being enhanced in some contexts but impaired in others. Our findings underscore the importance of evaluating pharmaceutical effects under multiple contexts and indicate that these compounds can affect predator-prey outcomes at sublethal concentrations.


Natural sciences; Earth sciences; Environmental science; Environmental chemistry; Ecology

Published in

2022, Volume: 25, number: 12, article number: 105672