Title page for ETD etd-05242001-200752

Type of Document Technical Report
Author Grippo, Mark
Author's Email Address mgrippo@vt.edu
URN etd-05242001-200752
Title The Effect of Mercury on the Feeding Behavior of Fathead Minnows (Pimephales promelas)
Degree Master of Science
Department Biology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Heath, Alan G. Committee Chair
Angermeier, Paul L. Committee Member
Jenssen, Thomas A. Committee Member
  • Fathead Minnows
  • Neurotransmitters
  • Mercury; Foraging Behavior
  • Learning
Date of Defense 2001-04-13
Availability unrestricted
Fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) were exposed to mercury (1.69, 6.79, and 13.

57 µg/l HgCl2; 10 d exposure) and afterwards tested using various metrics of foraging

ability while feeding in a vegetated habitat. Among the foraging metrics were foraging

efficiency, capture speed, and the ability to learn and retain information regarding habitat

characteristics. Comparisons with control fish and fish from the two highest exposure

groups revealed consistent performance deficits in foraging efficiency and capture speed.

However, no treatment effects on learning were detected. In determining the underlying

proximate cause of the foraging deficits, it is believed that the greater pause time

exhibited by treatment fish while foraging was the main cause of treatment differences.

In the future, behavioral studies will continue to allow toxicity testing of environmentally

relevant variables such as those used by behavioral ecologists. Such tests, when

combined with tests of field collected specimens, could prove powerful in linking

laboratory toxicity to toxicity in wild populations.

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