Avoidance behavior of cold-, cool-, and warmwater fish exposed to Zequanox in a two-choice preference chamber

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Zebra (Dreissenia polymorpha, Pallas 1771) and quagga (D. bugensis, Andrusov 1897) mussels, collectively referred to as dreissenid mussels, are invasive bivalves native to the Ponto-Caspian region of Eurasia (Stepien et al. 2013; Benson 2018a). High fecundity and a free-swimming planktonic life stage allow for easy and rapid dispersal of dreissenid mussels (Mackie 1991; Marsden et al. 2013). Dreissenids were introduced into the Great Lakes in North America in the mid-1980s via ballast water discharge from oceanic ships (Carlton 2008; Benson 2018b) and they quickly spread to inland waterways aided by anthropogenic mechanisms (Ludyanskiy et al., 1993; Birnbaum 2011). Zebra mussels were found within all of the Laurentian Great Lakes within three years of introduction and within the waterways of 29 U.S. states by 2010 (Benson 2013; Benson 2018a).

The impacts of dreissenid mussel biofouling on industrial and recreational water users has cost billions of dollars for remediation (Pimentel et al. 2005; Lovell et al. 2006). Dreissenids also caused substantial ecosystem harm including transferring energy from the pelagic to the benthic zone (Higgins and Vander Zanden 2010; Mayer et al. 2013), increasing nuisance algal blooms (Bierman et al. 2005; Higgins et al. 2008), altering fish communities (Strayer et al. 2004; Hoyle et al. 2008), and decimating native freshwater mussels (Karatayev et al. 2015; Lucy et al. 2013).   

One treatment tool for controlling dreissenid mussels in open water environments is an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered product, Zequanox (Marrone 2017). Zequanox is a formulated biopesticide that contains killed-cells of a soil bacterium, Pseudomonas fluorescensstrain CL145A, as the active ingredient (Luoma and Severson 2016; Marrone 2017). Zequanox has demonstrated safety to many non-target species, including freshwater fish, mussels, and invertebrates (Luoma et al. 2015; Waller and Luoma 2016; Waller et al. 2016). However, a recent study reported latent impacts on the survival and growth of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush,Walbaum in Artedi 1792) after exposure to the maximum dose allowed by the product label (Luoma et al. In Press).

            Characterization of avoidance behaviors in fish exposed to Zequanox is a prudent step in assessing the risk associated with Zequanox applications as exposure-related impacts have the potential be reduced when escapement from treated water is possible. Two-choice preference chambers allow for unimpeded movement of aquatic animals between two interconnected water flumes and they have been used to characterize avoidance behaviors in various aquatic animals (Jutfelt and Hedgärde 2013; Jutfelt et al. 2016; Tix et al. 2017). The goal of this study is to evaluate the potential for reduced risk to non-target animals during Zequanox applications by determining if freshwater fish preferentially avoid Zequanox. The specific objective is to evaluate the avoidance response of two representative species of cold-, cool-, and warmwater fish that are exposed to the maximum label concentration of Zequanox within a two-choice preference chamber.


Evaluate the avoidance response of two representative species of cold-, cool-, and warmwater fish that are exposed to maximum label concentration of Zequanox within a two-choice preference chamber.


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