Researchers have found that underwater antidepressants can alter the behavior of crayfish, making them more daring and extroverted, and thus more vulnerable to predators.
Low levels of antidepressants that are excreted or accidentally disposed of by humans are found in many bodies of water. Researchers at the University of Florida have found these against crayfish, a fundamental component of many aquatic food webs, given that they eat almost everything from plants, insects, leaf debris to small fish (even cannibalizing each other). Evaluated the effects of the drug.
Crayfish were more extroverted when exposed to low levels of antidepressants, according to a study published in the journal Ecosphere.
Researchers have long evaluated the impact of medicines and personal care products found in the environment. Often, these chemicals are detected at low concentrations that are not killing, so they are not considered harmful, Aggression, Smell ability,and Courtship Observed in exposed animals.
In this study, researchers recreated the natural environment of crayfish in the laboratory. Two groups of clayfish have been placed in the artificial stream. One group was exposed to antidepressants belonging to a family of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), while the control group was not exposed for 14 days.
Crayfish exposed to antidepressants were more daring and tended to go out and explore and search for food. This suggests that in the real world, this behavior could make it more vulnerable to predators and consume more resources that could change the dynamics of the food web. AJ Reisinger, an assistant professor in the Department of Soil and Water Sciences at the University of Florida, said.
Researchers also measured changes in algae biomass and organic matter and found that exposed crayfish increase the amount of algae in the stream’s water column.
“I think both of them not only stir a little of the sediment at the bottom, but also excrete it when they eat what’s at the bottom of the river,” said Reisinger, a postdoctoral researcher. ..
“That’s why crayfish are changing the type of where and how many different microbial components of an ecosystem are.”
In addition, researchers evaluated photosynthetic rates and energy consumption throughout the ecosystem, but found that the presence of antidepressants did not manifest themselves in these indicators, he said. “One of the reasons is that we didn’t run the experiment long enough because it took some time for the crayfish to change their behavior, and the biggest behavioral change took time to affect the ecosystem itself. maybe.”
Alex Ford, a professor of biology at the University of Portsmouth who was not involved in the study, said the study reflected previous studies, such changes to “normal” crayfish behavior, such as finding companions. He said it might mean less energy for other activities. Avoid predators or simply growth.
“It’s also important to remember that if the wastewater treatment plant is functioning properly, it will not be possible to filter all of these pollutants,” he added. Overflowing rainwater These pollutants are activated, which means they are completely untreated and released into the waterways.
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