19. Larval Fish Exposure to Harmful Algal Blooms Causes Long-term Effects on Sensorimotor Integration

Autum Auxier Ball State University
Faculty Sponsor(s): Jessica Ward Ball State University
Cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, can form harmful algal blooms (HABs) in freshwater environments that have been linked to disruptions in neurofunction, growth, and survival. Emerging research suggests that cyanotoxins produce non-lethal, but substantial effects on aquatic wildlife, including alterations in the central nervous system and behavior. Little is known about how, HAB-induced changes in the behavior of affected organisms influences fitness. This deficit in knowledge is important because the effects of neurotoxins on species interactions is critical in producing risk assessments for population and community level outcomes. The aim of this project was to evaluate the short- and long-term effects of exposure to 2,4-diaminobutyric acid (DABA) on the cognitive and motor performance of fish while foraging for live prey. The central hypothesis of the project is that chronic, low-dose exposure to neurodegenerative cyanotoxins alters the outcomes of species interactions through deterioration in sensorimotor feedback during prey-capture events. To test this hypothesis, data were collected on the prey-tracking performance of larval (21 days) and adult (7-8 months) fathead minnows, Pimephales promelas, during hunting events. Foraging efficiency and prey-capture trials indicated that exposure to DABA was associated with a significant reduction in prey consumption, potentially due to a reduced ability to detect or recognize prey. Sensorimotor deficits under lab conditions suggest that these effects would also be apparent in wild populations. A permanent or temporary reduction in motor performance can interfere with prey-capture behavior. Such changes are important because they have the potential to alter the dynamics of aquatic populations and communities.
Poster Presentation

When & Where

Irwin Library 3rd Floor