Can environmental pollution change the behavior of organisms?

More and more scientific research draws the conclusion that environmental pollution significantly changes the behavior within it. And the behavior of any living organism is fundamentally important for their survival – the search for food, a partner, how this animal hides from predators. Any chemical that can affect one of these factors can damage the entire food chain.

Using small, crustacean-like crustaceans called amphipods (amphipods) and widely used to monitor the toxicity of the environment, the team led by Professor Alex Ford and graduate student Shanel Kohler developed tests to obtain answers to these questions. First they determined that these animals try to float away from the light and preferably should touch the wall of the reservoir in which they are located. The initial purpose of these experiments was to find out how these preferences can vary depending on the size and shape of the test tanks.

As a result, it turned out that behavior varies depending on the size and shape, and also depending on the time that they spend at the walls, and the speed with which they swim. In the second round of the experiment, the researchers wanted to determine whether two species close to each other react equally to light (sea amphipods and those found in fresh water). It turned out that the reaction was completely different. If this happens, then it is very difficult to determine the effect of the chemical.

Shanel Kohler argues that “these results underscore the importance of standardized behavioral tests, since differences in experiments can change the behavior of animals.”