September 07, 2017
Teresa Dzieweczynski, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Psychology and coordinator for the Animal Behavior program, was interviewed for a Science & Society article that was published on September 1 by EMBO Reports, the scientific journal of the European Molecular Biology Organization. The article, “Swimming in a sea of drugs,” explores scientific studies that examine the effects of pharmaceuticals on aquatic wildlife.
Studies led by Dzieweczynski on the effects of 17α-Ethynylestradiol (a synthetic form of estrogen commonly used in birth control pills) and fluoxetine (Prozac) on Siamese fighting fish have demonstrated that the presence of 17α-Ethynylestradiol in water not only affects males, as previously known, but affects females as well. “Historically it was thought that males were the only ones being impacted by estrogen mimics because females have a feedback loop – if they have too much estrogen the body stops producing it,” she said, adding that her research has uncovered “the same kinds of trends both in males and in females.”
“They are less bold overall, they shoal less, explore less, forage less,” she explained.
Dzieweczynski’s studies also found that female Siamese fighting fish are less attracted to males who have been exposed to the drug.
Additionally, the article references studies by Dzieweczynski concluding that fluoxetine exposure has behavioral effects similar to those of 17α-Ethynylestradiol exposure. She suggested that the combination of effects is an important topic to study, stating, “We would like to compare the behavior of fish populations exposed to different mixtures in the wild.”
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