Due to their potential for affecting the modulation of behaviour, effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in the environment are particularly interesting regarding interspecies interactions and non-consumptive effects (NCEs) induced by predator cues in prey organisms. We evaluated the effects of sertraline (0.4, 40 ng/L, 40 µg/L) over 8 days on activity and habitat choice in the freshwater snail Radix balthica, on snails’ boldness in response to mechanical stimulation (simulating predator attack), and their activity/habitat choice in response to chemical cues from predatory fish. We hypothesised that sertraline exposure would detrimentally impact NCEs elicited by predator cues, increasing predation risk. Although there were no effects of sertraline on NCEs, there were observed effects of chemical cue from predatory fish on snail behaviour independent of sertraline exposure. Snails reduced their activity in which the percentage of active snails decreased by almost 50% after exposure to fish cue. Additionally, snails changed their habitat use by moving away from open (exposed) areas. The general lack of effects of sertraline on snails’ activity and other behaviours in this study is interesting considering that other SSRIs have been shown to induce changes in gastropod behaviour. This raises questions on the modes of action of various SSRIs in gastropods, as well as the potential for a trophic “mismatch” of effects between fish predators and snail prey in aquatic systems.
Ecotoxicology – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 18, 2018
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