SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1989

The Application of Avoidance/Preference Testing in Aquatic Toxicology


Preference/avoidance behavioral testing was evaluated as a method to determine the effects of low levels of olfactory attractant, single toxicant, and mixed effluent wastes from domestic and industrial dischargers on selected organisms. Various dilutions of effluents and a reference toxicant (phenol) were tested using linear velocity, locational position, and other factors as a behavioral response of fish and invertebrates. A video-based computerized system was used to capture and analyze the behavioral data in real time. Test fish species used were: Chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha; striped bass, Morone saxatilis; steelhead, Salmo gairdneri; fathead minnow, Pimephales promelas; and the invertebrate Daphnia magna. Both attraction and avoidance responses were observed at different concentrations of the toxicant and effluents studied with responses detected as low as 500:1 for effluents. Daphnia was especially sensitive to phenol (0.5 mg/L), while salmonids responded to 10−4 olfactory stimulant (amino acid mix). A discussion of behavioral testing as a tool to assess potential impacts of toxicants, mixed effluents, and olfactory masking is presented.

Author Information

Smith, EH
, Sebastopol, CA
Bailey, HC
University of California, Davis, CA
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Developed by Committee: E47
Pages: 34–45
DOI: 10.1520/STP16764S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5088-1
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-1253-7