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Juvenile crabs of Carcinus maenas thrive in coastal waters reputed to be the receptacle of continental pollution. Amongst the many pollutants encountered, antidepressants, such as fluoxetine (FLX) and venlafaxine (VEN), often detected at the ng•L-1 range, are particularly worrying because of their action on the levels of monoamines, such as serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine. In crustaceans, those monoamines are involved in colour change through their action on neuropeptide hormones. In addition, they are known to have a role in different behaviours, such as locomotion. Both colour change and locomotion are strategies used by juvenile crabs to hide and escape from predators. To investigate if the presence of antidepressants may alter behaviours of ecological importance, juvenile crabs were exposed to environmentally realistic concentrations of either 5 ng•L-1 of FLX alone or in combination with VEN at 5 ng•L-1. The ability to change colour depending on the environment and the locomotor activity of juvenile crabs were monitored weekly over 25 days. Animals exposed to antidepressants displayed a different pattern of colour change than the controls, especially those exposed to the combination of FLX and VEN at 5 ng•L-1 each, and were less efficient to adapt to their environment, i.e., they were not as pale and not as dark as controls or crabs exposed to FLX at 5 ng•L-1. Moreover, juvenile crabs exposed to the combination of antidepressants exhibited an enhanced locomotor activity throughout the exposure period with a higher velocity and distance moved as well as more time spend moving. The alteration of cryptic behaviours, such as colour change and locomotion by antidepressants persistently present in marine environment at low concentrations may have an impact on the survival of juvenile of C. maenas on the long term. Copyright © 2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Apolline Chabenat, Cécile Bellanger, Thomas Knigge. Effects of environmental antidepressants on colour change and locomotor behaviour in juvenile shore crabs, Carcinus maenas. Aquatic toxicology (Amsterdam, Netherlands). 2021 May;234:105808

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PMID: 33774504

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