Behavioral lateralization and scototaxis unaltered by near future ocean acidification conditions in Poecilia latipinna (Sailfin Molly)

Objective: Rising anthropogenic emissions of CO2 have increased ocean acidity by 25% (EPA, 2016).

Background: ). In more than 40 studies to date, this increase in CO2 has been shown to alter behaviors such as behavioral lateralization, the tendency of an individual to favor one side of the body, and scototaxis, light/dark preference, in fish. Scototaxis is a proxy for anxiety measurements.

Design/Methods The underlying cause of these behavioral disruptions is hypothesized to be caused by alterations of ion gradients across the GABAA receptor, the major inhibitory neurotransmitter found throughout the vertebrate nervous system. This study examined the effects of predicted nearfuture CO2 concentrations (~1000 ?atm) on behavioral lateralization and scototaxis of Sailfin Molly (Poecilia latipinna).

Results: Elevated CO2 levels were not found to affect these behaviors in this understudied species. This study is one of the few to examine CO2-induced behavioral alterations in an estuarine species.

Conclusions: Findings from this study suggest Sailfin Molly could be more resilient to high CO2 levels than other tested species, however more research is needed to fully assess behavioral tolerance. These novel findings may inspire the field to understand the mechanisms leading to species specific differences in behavioral tolerance, potentially allowing for better assessment of adaptive capacity.

Remnitz A., in press. Behavioral lateralization and scototaxis unaltered by near future ocean acidification conditions in Poecilia latipinna (Sailfin Molly). Neurology. Article (subscription required).

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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