The Effects of Sublethal Levels of 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic Acid Herbicide (2,4-D) on Feeding Behaviors of the Crayfish O. rusticus
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- Browne, A.M. & Moore, P.A. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol (2014) 67: 234. doi:10.1007/s00244-014-0032-8
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The widespread use of herbicides across the globe has increased the probability of synthetic chemicals entering freshwater habitats. On entering aquatic habitats, these chemicals target and disrupt both physiological and behavioral functioning in various aquatic organisms. Herbicides, such as 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), can have negative impacts on chemoreception because these receptor cells are in direct contact with water-soluble chemicals in the environment. Studies focusing on lethal concentration (LC50) levels may understate the impact of herbicides within aquatic habitats because damage to the chemoreceptors can result in modified behaviors or lack of appropriate responses to environmental or social cues. The purpose of this experiment was to determine whether exposure to sublethal levels of 2,4-D alters the foraging behaviors of crayfish Orconectes rusticus. We hypothesized that crayfish exposed to greater concentrations of 2,4-D would be less successful in locating food or on locating food would consume smaller amounts possibly due to an inability to recognize the food odors in the contaminated waters. Crayfish were exposed to three sublethal levels of 2,4-D for 96 h and placed into a Y-maze system with a fish gelatin food source placed randomly in the right or left arm. Average walking speed, average time spent in the correct arm, and percent consumption were analyzed. Our data show that crayfish were impaired in their ability to forage effectively. These inabilities to locate and consume adequate amounts of food could result in lower body weights and decreased fitness in populations of crayfish exposed to 2,4-D in natural habitats.