The physiology of behavioral impacts of high CO2

Recent experimental studies show that relatively small increases in environmental CO2 can fundamentally alter the behavior of marine and freshwater fishes by altering and/or impairing the function of neurotransmitter receptors. Most evidence to date suggests that the underlying mechanism of these behavioral disruptions is linked to alterations of ion gradients across the GABAA receptor, responsible for inhibitory input in neural circuits throughout the nervous system. This chapter will describe the mechanism(s) through which acid-base compensation during exposure to high CO2 has downstream neurophysiological effects in fish, including new molecular evidence for a self-amplifying cycle in GABAergic neurotransmission during high CO2 exposure.

Heuer R. M., Hamilton T. J. & Nilsson G. E., in press. The physiology of behavioral impacts of high CO2. Fish Physiology. Article (subscription required).


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