The Effects of Sublethal Levels of 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic Acid Herbicide (2,4-D) on Feeding Behaviors of the Crayfish O. rusticus

  • Amanda M. Browne
  • Paul A. Moore


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.


Malathion Aquatic Animal Diazinon Trophic Cascade Metolachlor 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank members of the Laboratory for Sensory Ecology for their review of the manuscript and for their suggestions for the project. We thank Dr. Rachelle Belanger from the University of Detroit Mercy for the statistical software used in this study. We also thank Frank Schemenauer from the Bowling Green State University Greenhouse for creating the herbicide stock solution. The chemical analyses in this project were generously funded by the Toledo Naturalists’ Association.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory for Sensory Ecology, Department of Biological Sciences and J. P. Scott Center for Neuroscience Mind and BehaviorBowling Green State UniversityBowling GreenUSA

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