Sublethal toxicity of untreated and treated stormwater Zn concentrations on the foraging behaviour of Paratya australiensis (Decapoda: Atyidae)

Lois Jane Oulton*, Mark P. Taylor, Grant C. Hose, Culum Brown

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    15 Citations (Scopus)


    Aquatic organisms use chemical cues to perform key ecological behaviours such as locating food. Anthropogenic pollutants have the potential to disrupt these behaviours by down-regulating chemoreception. Urban stormwater runoff is a major source of metal pollution, particularly Zn, and is a leading contributor to the degradation of receiving waters. Consequently, significant remedial efforts have focused on using constructed stormwater wetlands to reduce pollutant loads. However, no studies have examined the efficacy of water quality improvements on ecologically relevant behaviours in aquatic biota. We conducted controlled laboratory experiments to test whether untreated (100 and 400 μg L-1) and treated (40 μg L-1) stormwater Zn concentrations observed in constructed wetlands interfere with the foraging behaviour of the glass shrimp (Paratya australiensis). The ability of shrimp to perceive, approach and search for a chemoattractant source was used to assess foraging behaviour. Abnormal foraging behaviour was observed in shrimp exposed to Zn at untreated stormwater concentrations. The strongest change relative to the control was observed for perception, which decreased by more than 80 and 60 % in the 400 μg Zn L-1 and 100 μg Zn L-1 groups, respectively. The behaviour of shrimp exposed to Zn concentrations measured in treated stormwater did not differ from the controls. The results suggest that the reduction of stormwater Zn concentrations via wetland treatment can prevent abnormal contamination-induced behaviours in shrimp, leading to improved aquatic ecosystem health. This study also highlights the subtle, but biologically significant impacts arising from sublethal exposures of Zn, and emphasise the utility of behavioural toxicology. The behavioural test used here is a simple and effective approach that could be incorporated into studies assessing the efficacy of stormwater treatment.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1022-1029
    Number of pages8
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


    • atyidae
    • stormwater Zn
    • sublethal toxicity
    • foraging behaviour
    • stormwater treatment
    • Atyidae
    • Sublethal toxicity
    • Foraging behaviour
    • Stormwater treatment
    • Stormwater Zn


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