University of Oulu

Wiles, S. C., Bertram, M. G., Martin, J. M., Tan, H., Lehtonen, T. K., & Wong, B. B. M. (2020). Long-Term Pharmaceutical Contamination and Temperature Stress Disrupt Fish Behavior. Environmental Science & Technology, 54(13), 8072–8082.

Long-term pharmaceutical contamination and temperature stress disrupt fish behavior

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Author: Wiles, Sarah C.1; Bertram, Michael G.1,2; Martin, Jake M.1;
Organizations: 1School of Biological Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria 3800, Australia
2Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Environmental Studies, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå, 901 83, Sweden
3Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, Faculty of Science, University of Oulu, Oulu, 90570, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: American Chemical Society, 2020
Publish Date: 2021-06-18


Natural environments are subject to a range of anthropogenic stressors, with pharmaceutical pollution being among the fastest-growing agents of global change. However, despite wild animals living in complex multi-stressor environments, interactions between pharmaceutical exposure and other stressors remain poorly understood. Accordingly, we investigated effects of long-term exposure to the pervasive pharmaceutical contaminant fluoxetine (Prozac) and acute temperature stress on reproductive behaviors and activity levels in the guppy (Poecilia reticulata). Fish were exposed to environmentally realistic fluoxetine concentrations (measured average: 38 or 312 ng/L) or a solvent control for 15 months using a mesocosm system. Additionally, fish were subjected to one of three acute (24 h) temperature treatments: cold stress (18 °C), heat stress (32 °C), or a control (24 °C). We found no evidence for interactive effects of fluoxetine exposure and temperature stress on guppy behavior. However, both stressors had independent impacts. Fluoxetine exposure resulted in increased male coercive copulatory behavior, while fish activity levels were unaffected. Under cold-temperature stress, both sexes were less active and males exhibited less frequent reproductive behaviors. Our results demonstrate that long-term exposure to a common pharmaceutical pollutant and acute temperature stress alter fundamental fitness-related behaviors in fish, potentially shifting population dynamics in contaminated ecosystems.

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Series: Environmental science & technology
ISSN: 0013-936X
ISSN-E: 1520-5851
ISSN-L: 0013-936X
Volume: 54
Issue: 13
Pages: 8072 - 8082
DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.0c01625
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This study was funded by the Australian Research Council (DP130100385, DP160100372 and FT190100014 to B.B.M.W.), a Monash University Postgraduate Publications Award (to M.G.B.), and an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship (to J.M.M.).
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Copyright information: This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of a Published Work that appeared in final form in Environmental Science and Technology, copyright © American Chemical Society after peer review and technical editing by the publisher. To access the final edited and published work see