Rosenthal Gil G.
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PreprintHumic acid interferes with species recognition in zebrafish (Danio rerio)( 2007-10-01) Fabian, Niora J. ; Albright, Lindsey B. ; Gerlach, Gabriele ; Fisher, Heidi S. ; Rosenthal, Gil G.Few studies have addressed how chemosensation may be impaired by chemical alterations of the environment and anthropogenic disturbance. Humic acid (HA) is a pervasive, naturally occurring organic derivative found in aquatic and terrestrial environments; human activity, however, can lead to elevated levels of HA. Recent studies suggest that environments that contain high levels of HA may hinder chemical communication. We tested the ability of adult zebrafish (Danio rerio) to discriminate between conspecific and heterospecific urinary chemical cues found in the presence and absence of HA. We show that high humic acid levels (200 mg/l) can impair the ability to differentiate conspecifics from heterospecifics. We also found that zebrafish prefer untreated water over HA-treated water. These findings suggest that, in addition to human-produced synthetic compounds, changes in the abundance of naturally occurring substances may also negatively impact natural behaviors in aquatic species by disturbing the sensory environment.
ArticleTactical release of a sexually-selected pheromone in a swordtail fish(Public Library of Science, 2011-02-09) Rosenthal, Gil G. ; Fitzsimmons, Jessica N. ; Woods, Kristina U. ; Gerlach, Gabriele ; Fisher, Heidi S.Chemical communication plays a critical role in sexual selection and speciation in fishes; however, it is generally assumed that most fish pheromones are passively released since most fishes lack specialized scent glands or scent-marking behavior. Swordtails (genus Xiphophorus) are widely used in studies of female mate choice, and female response to male chemical cues is important to sexual selection, reproductive isolation, and hybridization. However, it is unclear whether females are attending to passively produced cues, or to pheromones produced in the context of communication. We used fluorescein dye injections to visualize pulsed urine release in male sheepshead swordtails, Xiphophorus birchmanni. Simultaneous-choice assays of mating preference showed that females attend to species- and sex-specific chemical cues emitted in male urine. Males urinated more frequently in the presence and proximity of an audience (conspecific females). In the wild, males preferentially courted upstream of females, facilitating transmission of pheromone cues. Males in a teleost fish have evolved sophisticated temporal and spatial control of pheromone release, comparable to that found in terrestrial animals. Pheromones are released specifically in a communicative context, and the timing and positioning of release favors efficient signal transmission.