Acute, sublethal exposure to a pyrethroid insecticide alters behavior, growth, and predation risk in larvae of the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas)

Emily Y. Floyd, Juergen P. Geist, Inge Werner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations

Abstract

The present study determined the effects of environmentally relevant, short-term (4-h) exposure to the pyrethroid insecticide esfenvalerate on mortality, food consumption, growth, swimming ability, and predation risk in larvae of the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas). Acute effect concentrations were determined, and in subsequent experiments, fish were exposed to the following measured sublethal concentrations: 0.072, 0.455, and 1.142 μg/L of esfenvalerate. To measure growth rates (% dry wt/d), 8-d-old fathead minnows were exposed to esfenvalerate for 4 h, then transferred to control water and held for 7 d. Food consumption and abnormal swimming behavior were recorded daily. Additional behavioral experiments were conducted to evaluate how esfenvalerate affects the optomotor response of the fish. To quantify predation risk, esfenvalerate-exposed fathead minnow larvae were transferred to 9.5-L aquaria, each containing one juvenile threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). Sticklebacks were allowed to feed for 45 min, after which the number of surviving minnows was recorded. No mortality occurred during 4-h exposures to esfenvalerate, even at nominal concentrations of greater than 20 μg/L. Delayed mortality (50%) was observed at 2 μg/L after an additional 20 h in clean water. Fish exposed to 0.455 and 1.142 μ/L of esfenvalerate exhibited impaired swimming and feeding ability as well as reduced growth compared to fish exposed to 0.072 μg/L and controls. Predation risk also was significantly increased for larvae exposed to 0.455 and 1.142 μg/L of esfenvalerate. These results demonstrate that larval fish experiencing acute exposures to sublethal concentrations of this insecticide exhibit significant behavioral impairment, leading to reduced growth and increased susceptibility to predation, with potentially severe consequences for their ecological fitness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1780-1787
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Volume27
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2008

Keywords

  • Feeding
  • Fish larvae
  • Predation
  • Pyrethroid insecticide
  • Swimming behavior

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