Escape behavior in aquatic invertebrate species in response to chemical contamination

Hosting lab: INRAE, UR RiverLy, Laboratoire d’écotoxicologie, Lyon-Villeurbanne, FRANCE.

Keywords: Ecotoxicology, species diversity, sensitivity, behavior, video analysis

Escape behavior in the face of exposure to contamination is one of the earliest and most sensitive responses in animal aquatic ecotoxicology. However, this response is only rarely used among the tools available for chemical risk assessment. A partnership between the INRAE ecotoxicology laboratory and the Viewpoint company has recently led to the development of a device, ToxMate ( This device measures the locomotor activity of aquatic invertebrates at the outlet of urban stations via video analysis and provides a real-time indicator of the degradation of the quality of the discharge based on the detection of the escape behavior of organisms conditioned and isolated to be exposed on line to the discharge. The analysis is now routinely performed on three European freshwater species, belonging to three major phylogenetic groups: Gammarus fossarum (Crustacea), Erpobdella testacea (Annelid) and Radix auricularia (Gastropod). These species present differential sensitivities to various families of micropollutants.

This multi-species approach offers the opportunity to address in an original way scientific questions related to the integration and quantification of differences in sensitivity between species in ecotoxicology. Responding to the issue of the inter-species variability of sensitivity to contaminants, the post-doc will aim to characterize the escape behavior of new species, particularly within these same phylogenetic groups. The work of defining substitute species will thus address the question of the representativeness of model species in ecotoxicology and the integration of species diversity in the chemical risk assessment. The study could potentially be extended to the intra-specific level via the comparison of different populations with varied life histories or exposure histories within the same species of gammarids.

Profile: PhD in ecotoxicology or ecophysiology, implementation of experimental approaches with model species or ecologically-relevant species.

Conditions: 15-month position with possibility of extension
Starting January 2022

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