High-speed imaging reveals how antihistamine exposure affects escape behaviours in aquatic insect prey.


Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå University, SE 90187 Umeå, Sweden. Electronic address: [Email]


Aquatic systems receive a wide range of pharmaceuticals that may have adverse impacts on aquatic wildlife. Among these pharmaceuticals, antihistamines are commonly found, and these substances have the potential to influence the physiology of aquatic invertebrates. Previous studies have focused on how antihistamines may affect behaviours of aquatic invertebrates, but these studies probably do not capture the full consequences of antihistamine exposure, as traditional recording techniques do not capture important animal movements occurring at the scale of milliseconds, such as prey escape responses. In this study, we investigated if antihistamine exposure can impact escape responses in aquatic insect, by exposing damselfly (Coenagrion hastulatum) larvae to two environmentally relevant concentrations (0.1 and 1 μg L-1) of diphenhydramine. Importantly, we used a high-speed imaging approach that with high-time resolution captures details of escape responses and, thus, potential impacts of diphenhydramine on these behaviours. Our results show overall weak effects of antihistamine exposure on the escape behaviours of damselfly larvae. However, at stage 2 of the C-escape response, we found a significant increase in turning angle, which corresponds to a reduced swimming velocity, indicating a reduced success at evading a predator attack. Thus, we show that low concentrations of an antihistamine may affect behaviours strongly related to fitness of aquatic insect prey - effects that would have been overlooked using traditional recording techniques. Hence, to understand the full consequences of pharmaceutical contamination on aquatic wildlife, high-speed imaging should be incorporated into future environmental risk assessments.


Damselfly larvae,Diphenhydramine,Escape response,Pharmaceutical pollution,