A video-based movement analysis system to quantify behavioral stress responses of fish.

Aquatic Pathobiology Laboratory, Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Maryland, 8075 Greenmead Drive, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
Water Research (Impact Factor: 5.32). 12/2004; 38(18):3993-4001. DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2004.06.028
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Behavioral alterations can be measured as endpoints for sublethal toxicity, and serve as a tool for environmental risk assessment and analysis of toxicological impact. Numerous technical and biological factors have made sublethal effects on fish behavior difficult to quantify. In order to investigate stress- and contaminant-induced behavioral alterations, a video analysis system was designed by our laboratory. With this system up to 12 fish may be individually housed in 20 L exposure arenas and automatically videotaped at multiple and discrete intervals during an experimental period. Analog video data can then digitized, converted into x,y coordinates, and finally transformed into relevant behavioral endpoints using software designed for tracking fish movement combined with specific algorithms. These endpoints include velocity, total distance traveled, angular change, percent movement, space utilization, and fractal dimension (path complexity). Data from fish exposed to a reference toxicant, MS222, and simulation experiments, are presented to exemplify alterations in fish behavior associated with exposure, and accuracy and precision, respectively. The system provides flexibility to analyze any observed movement behavior, is remotely controlled, and can be transportable. These movement analyses can be used to identify characteristic behavioral responses to a variety of environmentally-relevant stressors, and assist in risk assessment and the development of more sensitive lowest observable effect level and no observable effect level for sentinel species.

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