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Smell no evil: Copper disrupts the alarm chemical response in a diadromous fish, Galaxias maculatus

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Fish, at all life stages, utilise olfactory information in the decision‐making processes essential to survival. Olfaction is a sensitive sensory process, and toxicants within urban aquatic environments can have destructive or depreciating effects. In this study, we exposed Galaxias maculatus, a native fish commonly found in urban waterways throughout south‐eastern Australia, to one of five ecologically relevant copper (II) chloride concentrations (<1, 1, 6, 8, 18 µg/L) for sixteen hours. After exposure, we tested the response of individual fish to one of three stimuli: a conspecific skin extract containing a stress‐inducing alarm chemical odour, a conspecific odour, and distilled water as a control. Stress responses were quantified through behavioural assays. We found evidence for distinct changes in behavioural response with increasing copper concentration and a marked difference in response between control fish and fish exposed to the alarm chemical odour. Copper, even at relatively low concentrations, can have a significant effect on the stress response behaviour shown by G. maculatus. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved

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