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Ecology and Evolution

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Fluoxetine, Antidepressants, Predation (Biology), Estuarine animals, Estuarine ecology


Predators exert considerable top-down pressure on ecosystems by directly consuming prey or indirectly influencing their foraging behaviors and habitat use. Prey is, therefore, forced to balance predation risk with resource reward. A growing list of anthropogenic stressors such as rising temperatures and ocean acidification has been shown to influence prey risk behaviors and subsequently alter important ecosystem processes. Yet, limited attention has been paid to the effects of chronic pharmaceutical exposure on risk behavior or as an ecological stressor, despite widespread detection and persistence of these contaminants in aquatic environments. In the laboratory, we simulated estuarine conditions of the shore crab, Hemigrapsus oregonensis, and investigated whether chronic exposure (60 days) to field-detected concentrations (0, 3, and 30 ng/L) of the antidepressant fluoxetine affected diurnal and nocturnal risk behaviors in the presence of a predator, Cancer productus. We found that exposure to fluoxetine influenced both diurnal and nocturnal prey risk behaviors by increasing foraging and locomotor activity in the presence of predators, particularly during the day when these crabs normally stay hidden. Crabs exposed to fluoxetine were also more aggressive, with a higher frequency of agonistic interactions and increased mortality due to conflicts with conspecifics. These results suggest that exposure to field-detected concentrations of fluoxetine may alter the trade-off between resource acquisition and predation risk among crabs in estuaries. This fills an important data gap, highlighting how intra-and interspecific behaviors are altered by exposure to field concentrations of pharmaceuticals; such data more explicitly identify potential ecological impacts of emerging contaminants on aquatic ecosystems and can aid water quality management.


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© 2017 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.



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