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Tuesday, January 29 • 6:00pm - 9:00pm
(P19) Harmful Algal Blooms Impair Innate Predator-Evasion Behavior in a Freshwater Fish

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

ABSTRACT. Cyanotoxins produced by harmful algal blooms (HABs) are commonly detected in freshwater systems in the United States and abroad. Emerging evidence suggests that chronic exposure of fish and other aquatic organisms to cyanotoxins may induce sub-lethal effects on behavior, negatively influencing individual fitness. Along with reducing recruitment of young into the population, exposure may increase the rate of transfer up the food chain, posing significant health risks for humans. For example, exposure to neurodegenerative cyanotoxins through the consumption of contaminated foods has been linked to sporadic increases in diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Despite the potential for similar cognitive and motor impairment in aquatic organisms, the effects of neurodegenerative cyanotoxins on the performance of fish in real-world contexts is largely unknown. In this study, we examined the sub-lethal effects of a common algal neurotoxin, 2,4-diaminobutyric acid dihydrochloride (DABA), on the innate predator-evasion performance of larval fathead minnows, Pimephales promelas. Eggs and larvae were exposed to a range of environmentally relevant concentrations of DABA (0, 1, 5, 25, 125 and 625 µg/L) for 21 days. On day 22, behavioral assays were conducted by administering a non-point source vibrational stimulus to an arena containing a focal larva. Responses were filmed using a high-speed camera at 1000 fps, and perceptual and motor components of the response were analyzed separately. Compared with nonexposed fish, exposure to DABA significantly modulated the response of larvae to a simulated predator. This research is among the first to attempt to understand how neurodegenerative cyanotoxins affect the behavior of aquatic organisms in real-world contexts and could be used by managers to predict the fate of aquatic communities in areas afflicted by HABs.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 6:00pm - 9:00pm

Attendees (3)