Behavioral responses to and bioindicator potential for PFASs exposure in crayfish species

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Project Abstract: 
Due to the continued anthropogenic degradation of environments, there is an increased necessity for bioindicator species to aid in the assessment of impacts on aquatic ecosystems. Several characteristics of crayfish offer them as a suitable candidate as a bioindicator: global distribution, high population densities, low migratory rate, sensitive physiology and behaviors, and easy maintenance within laboratory environments. The demonstrated applicability of crayfish as a biomonitor for an array of well-studied anthropogenic toxicants and their role as an important keystone species, raises interest in their sensitivity to and the application of crayfish as a bioindicator for emerging contaminants such as per- and poly-fluorinated alky substances (PFAS). The perflourinated compounds, perfluorooctyl sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), have gained particular research focus due their widespread detection and stability within the environment. Previous research has demonstrated exposure to PFAS causes negative effects on the reproductive, endocrine, immune and nervous systems of experimental organisms, however, behavioral effects have not been well documented. The aim of this study is to investigate the behavioral implications of PFAS exposure on crayfish species and the validity of using these organisms as bioindicator model for PFAS contamination. Differences in the escape response of crayfish from the predatory odor of Micropterus salmoides and in plant consumption will be compared between animals collected from various polluted locations in Northern Michigan. Water chemistry sampling in Northern Michigan environments performed by Tip of Mitt Watershed Council (Petoskey, Michigan) and University Michigan Biological Station Analytical Laboratory (Pellston, Michigan) will provide verification of PFAS concentrations at crayfish sampling sites to determine the relationship between behavioral deficits and toxicant concentration. Due to the prevalence and known uptake of perfluorinated compounds by aquatic organisms, a suitable bioindicator species and further study on important fitness related behaviors that may be affected by PFAS are critical.
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