• Cyanobacteria;
  • Daphnia;
  • Swimming;
  • Microcystins;
  • Saxitoxins


The present study aimed to test the effects of raw water samples from a eutrophic reservoir and of a saxitoxin-producing strain of Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii on the swimming behavior of 2 key herbivore species of Daphnia. Two complementary approaches were used, acute bioassays and behavioral assays using an automated movement tracking system for measuring the following activity parameters: swimming time, resting time, distance traveled, and mean velocity. In both assays, animals were exposed to field samples or to toxic filaments in different concentrations and observed for 2 h to 3 h. In the acute bioassays, there was a decrease in the number of swimming individuals during the exposure period and a recovery following removal from toxic algae. A significant relationship was found between median effective concentration and the saxitoxin content of seston (r2 = 0.998; p = 0.025) in the acute bioassays with raw water samples. Behavioral assays also showed significant effects in the activity parameters with both field samples and the strain of C. raciborskii, with some recovery during the exposure period. Both approaches corroborated previous research on the effects of neurotoxic C. raciborskii on the swimming activity of Daphnia, and these effects are compatible with the mechanism of action of saxitoxins. The present study showed that activity parameters of aquatic organisms may be a useful tool in the evaluation of sublethal toxicity and detection of neurotoxins in raw water. Environ Toxicol Chem 2014;33:223–229. © 2013 SETAC