Do you smell what I smell? Olfactory impairment in wild yellow perch from metal-contaminated waters

R. S. Mirza, W. W. Green, S. Connor, A. C.W. Weeks, C. M. Wood, G. G. Pyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


In this study, we sampled yellow perch from three lakes along a metal-contamination gradient and examined their olfactory ability in response to conspecific chemical alarm cues and metal-binding characteristics of their olfactory epithelium (OE). We measured the electrophysiological response at the OE, tested their antipredator behaviour and measured neuronal density at the olfactory rosette and bulb. Yellow perch from contaminated lakes exhibited significantly larger electrophysiological responses to alarm cues than clean lake fish, but showed no antipredator behaviour contrary to clean lake fish. Neuron density did not differ at either the olfactory rosette or bulb between clean and contaminated fish. Unlike fishes raised under laboratory or aquaculture settings, fish from contaminated lakes possessed a functional OE after metal exposure, but similar to laboratory/aquaculture fishes, yellow perch did not exhibit olfactory-mediated behaviours. Thus, wild fish from contaminated lakes can detect chemical stimuli but olfactory signal processing is disrupted which could alter ecological functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)677-683
Number of pages7
JournalEcotoxicology and Environmental Safety
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Behaviour
  • Electro-olfactogram
  • Metals
  • Neuron density
  • Olfaction
  • Predation
  • Yellow perch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution


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