Impacts of early life exposure to estrogen on subsequent breeding behavior and reproductive success in zebrafish

Tobias S. Coe, Marta Soffker, Amy L. Filby, David Hodgson, Charles R. Tyler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Impacts of exposure to environmental estrogens on reproductive development are well documented, but recently wider concern has been raised due to evidence that such exposures can disrupt normal patterns of reproductive behavior, dominance, and parentage, with potential population level implications. It is fundamental therefore to understand any such effects for effective risk assessment. This study investigated the impact of a transient exposure to ethinylestradiol (EE2) during early life (from 20−60 days post fertilization), including at a dosing level within the environmental range, on the subsequent reproductive behavior and success in both male and female zebrafish (Danio rerio) in competitive breeding scenarios. There were no obvious effects of the early life EE2 exposures on the subsequent gonadal phenotypes in either mature males or females. In fact, reproductive success in males exposed to 2.76 ng EE2/L was increased in competitive spawning scenarios. In contrast, exposure of females to EE2 (9.86 ng/L) during early life reduced their subsequent reproductive success in competitive spawning scenarios. Mate choice experiments suggested this was a consequence of the females’ diminished courting behavior toward males, rather than any male preference for unexposed females. Reproductive capability of females is generally considered a key determinant in population demographics and dynamics, and therefore the effect of exposure to EE2 on female reproductive success may have significant implications for exposed fish populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6481-6487
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2010

Cite this