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Monday, January 28 • 11:40am - 12:00pm
(FISHERIES: BEHAVIOR & PHYSIOLOGY) Exposure to Harmful Algal Blooms Impairs Prey Recognition and Capture Success in a Larval Freshwater Fish

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AUTHORS: Jessica Ward, Gina Lamka, Autum Auxier, Hannah Mullinax – Ball State University

ABSTRACT: Cyanobacteria are prevalent blue-green algae in freshwater systems with adverse impacts on both human health and the environment. At least 8 classes of toxins produced by cyanobacteria have been identified with the potential to affect organismal physiology and function. Of these, ß-N-methylamino-l-alanine (BMAA) and its isomer 2,4-diaminobutyric acid (DABA) are potent neurotoxic metabolites of interest because they are a risk factor for neurodegenerative diseases in humans. However, sensorimotor integration is also critical to the successful survival and reproduction of resident aquatic organisms, and these neurodegenerative cyanotoxins have the potential to modify the expression of simple and complex behaviors within individuals and the outcomes of interactions between individuals in aquatic environments. One way that this can happen is through changes that compromise an organism’s ability to correctly perceive, process and respond to relevant biotic stimuli (e.g., predators, prey, or mates). In this study, we examined the effects of DABA on the foraging behavior of a larval fish (Promelas pimephales). We exposed larvae to a range of environmentally-relevant concentrations of DABA for 21 days. We then tested larvae in prey-capture assays to assess the effect of neural disruption on the outcomes of predator-prey interactions, and recorded individual prey strikes using a high-speed camera to assess changes in cognitive and motor aspects of hunting behavior. Compared with nonexposed fish, exposure to DABA was associated with reduced foraging success and an altered ability to recognize prey. These data improve our understanding of how aquatic contaminants affect stimulus-response pathways though their effects on brain function, and suggest that even subtle contaminant-induced shifts in perception, processing, or response can have marked effects on fitness.

Monday January 28, 2019 11:40am - 12:00pm

Attendees (15)