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Tuesday, January 30 • 2:40pm - 3:00pm
SYMPOSIA-11: Effects of an Environmental Estrogen on Predator-prey Interactions in Freshwater Fish

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AUTHORS. Jessica Ward, Ball State University; Victoria Korn, St Cloud State University; Heiko Schoenfuss, St Cloud State University

ABSTRACT. Understanding the population-level effects of chemical stressors on aquatic biota requires knowledge of the direct adverse effects of aquatic pollutants on individuals and species interactions that relate to survival and reproduction. At present, we have only a limited understanding of how the initial behavioral responses of individual organisms to aquatic contaminants translate into effects at higher levels of biological organization. This deficit in knowledge is important because species rarely exist in isolation and the structure and function of an aquatic community is dependent upon complex interactions that occur both within and among species. Consequently, more and better studies incorporating species interactions into projections of biological change are a high research priority. To that end, we quantified the effects of short-term exposure to a common environmental estrogen, estrone (E1), on antipredator escape performance of larval fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) and the probability of predation by a natural predator, the bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus) across a range of spring and summer temperatures (15-18°C). Compared with nonexposed fish, minnows exposed to two environmentally relevant concentrations of E1 (125 and 625 ng/L) were more susceptible to predation by sunfish. However, exposure also decreased the prey-capture success of predators, potentially mitigating the increased vulnerability of prey. These results exemplify the complex effects of exposure on predator-prey interactions, and suggest that even subtle, contaminant-induced shifts in behavior can alter the structure and function of aquatic communities. Similar studies may assist in identifying vulnerable populations and more accurately predicting community dynamics under changing real-world scenarios.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 2:40pm - 3:00pm CST