3 years ago

Habitat fragmentation caused by contaminants: Atrazine as a chemical barrier isolating fish populations

Habitat fragmentation caused by contaminants: Atrazine as a chemical barrier isolating fish populations
Information on how atrazine can affect the spatial distribution of organisms is non-existent. As this effect has been observed for some other contaminants, we hypothesized that atrazine-containing leachates/discharges could trigger spatial avoidance by the fish Poecilia reticulata and form a chemical barrier isolating upstream and downstream populations. Firstly, guppies were exposed to an atrazine gradient in a non-forced exposure system, in which organisms moved freely among the concentrations, to assess their ability to avoid atrazine. Secondly, a chemical barrier formed by atrazine, separating two clean habitats (extremities of the non-forced system), was simulated to assess whether the presence of the contaminant could prevent guppies from migrating to the other side of the system. Fish were able to avoid atrazine contamination at environmentally relevant concentrations (0.02 μg L−1), below those described to cause sub-lethal effects. The AC50 (atrazine concentration causing avoidance to 50% of the population) was 0.065 μg L−1. The chemical barrier formed by atrazine at 150 μg L−1 (concentration that should produce an avoidance around 82%) caused a reduction in the migratory potential of the fish by 47%; while the chemical barrier at 1058 μg L−1 (concentration that produces torpidity) caused a reduction in the migratory potential of the fish by 91%. Contamination by atrazine, besides driving the spatial distribution of fish populations, has potential to act as a chemical barrier by isolating fish populations. This study includes a novel approach to be integrated in environmental risk assessment schemes to assess high-tier contamination effects such as habitat fragmentation and population displacement and isolation.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0045653517317745

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