Near-future carbon dioxide levels alter fish behaviour by interfering with neurotransmitter function

Nilsson, Göran, Dixson, Danielle L., Domenici, Paolo, McCormick, Mark I., Sørensen, Christina, Watson, Sue-Ann, and Munday, Philip L. (2012) Near-future carbon dioxide levels alter fish behaviour by interfering with neurotransmitter function. Nature Climate Change, 2. pp. 201-204.

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Abstract

Predicted future CO₂ levels have been found to alter sensory responses and behaviour of marine fishes. Changes include increased boldness and activity, loss of behavioural lateralization, altered auditory preferences and impaired olfactory function. Impaired olfactory function makes larval fish attracted to odours they normally avoid, including ones from predators and unfavourable habitats. These behavioural alterations have significant effects on mortality that may have far-reaching implications for population replenishment, community structure and ecosystem function. However, the underlying mechanism linking high CO₂ to these diverse responses has been unknown. Here we show that abnormal olfactory preferences and loss of behavioural lateralization exhibited by two species of larval coral reef fish exposed to high CO₂ can be rapidly and effectively reversed by treatment with an antagonist of the GABA-A receptor. GABA-A is a major neurotransmitter receptor in the vertebrate brain. Thus, our results indicate that high CO₂ interferes with neurotransmitter function, a hitherto unrecognized threat to marine populations and ecosystems. Given the ubiquity and conserved function of GABA-A receptors, we predict that rising CO₂ levels could cause sensory and behavioural impairment in a wide range of marine species, especially those that tightly control their acid–base balance through regulatory changes in HCO₃⁻ and Cl⁻ levels.

Item ID: 24677
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1758-6798
Keywords: behaviour, biodiversity and ecosystems, biological sciences, biology, ecology, oceanography
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2013 05:05
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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