, Volume 19, Issue 7, pp 1294–1301 | Cite as

Impairment of trophic interactions between zebrafish (Danio rerio) and midge larvae (Chironomus riparius) by chlorpyrifos

  • Miriam Langer-JaesrichEmail author
  • Cornelia KienleEmail author
  • Heinz-R. KöhlerEmail author
  • Almut GerhardtEmail author


The effects of chemicals on biotic interactions, such as competition and predation, have rarely been investigated in aquatic ecotoxicology. This study presents a new approach for the investigation of predator–prey interactions between zebrafish (Danio rerio) and midge larvae (Chironomus riparius) impaired by chlorpyrifos (CHP), a neurotoxic insecticide. With a simple experimental design including four different treatments: (1) control, (2) predator exposed, (3) prey exposed and (4) both, predator and prey, exposed, we were able to detect by visual observation an increase in the feeding rate of zebrafish preying on exposed chironomids after acute (2 h) exposure to 6 μg/l CHP. Previously, a decrease in the burrowing behaviour of exposed chironomid larvae was observed. However, when pre-exposing simultaneously both predators and prey, no significant differences in the feeding rate of zebrafish were observed. This suggests an impairment in prey recognition of the exposed zebrafish. At a lower CHP concentration (1 μg/l), no differences in feeding rate of zebrafish were observed. We therefore propose the use of trophic interactions as parameters in higher tier studies for chemical testing and evaluation of ecotoxicological risk assessment.


Feeding depression Pesticide Non-biting midge Fish Interspecific interaction 



We are grateful to Niels Dieter for assistance with the experimental procedure. Also the Max-Planck-Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen is thanked for providing the fish.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Animal Physiological EcologyUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany
  2. 2.LimCo InternationalIbbenbürenGermany
  3. 3.Swiss Centre for Applied Ecotoxicology Eawag/EPFLDübendorfSwitzerland

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