An evaluation of behavioural endpoints: The pharmaceutical pollutant fluoxetine decreases aggression across multiple contexts in round goby ( Neogobius melanostomus )
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Fluoxetine (Prozac™) is designed to alter human behaviour; however, because many physiological pathways are conserved across vertebrates, this drug may affect the behaviour of fish living in fluoxetine-polluted environments. Although a number of studies have used behaviour to document the sub-lethal effects of fluoxetine, the repeatability of these effects across experiments, across behavioural contexts, and over different exposure durations are rarely considered. Here, we conducted two experiments and assessed how fluoxetine exposure affected a range of fitness-related behaviours in wild round goby (Neogobius melanostomus). We found that fluoxetine impacts round goby behaviour at high (40 μg/l) doses, but not at environmentally relevant low doses (1 μg/l). In both experiments, an acute 3-day exposure to fluoxetine reduced round goby aggression in multiple behavioural contexts, but had no detectable effect on overall activity or social affiliative behaviour. While a chronic 28-day exposure to fluoxetine exposure still reduced aggression, this reduction was only detectable in one behavioural context. Our findings demonstrate the importance of repeated behavioural testing (both between and within experiments) and contribute to a growing body of literature evaluating the effects of fluoxetine and other pharmaceuticals on animal behaviour.
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