Humic acid interferes with species recognition in zebrafish (Danio rerio)
Fabian, Niora J.
Albright, Lindsey B.
Fisher, Heidi S.
Rosenthal, Gil G.
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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.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2007. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Springer for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Chemical Ecology 33 (2007): 2090-2096, doi:10.1007/s10886-007-9377-z.