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Keywords:

  • ecotoxicology;
  • fitness;
  • fungicide;
  • zebrafish;
  • reproduction

Abstract

Inbreeding depression is expected to be more severe in stressful environments. However, the extent to which inbreeding affects the vulnerability of populations to environmental stressors, such as chemical exposure, remains unresolved. Here we report on the combined impacts of inbreeding and exposure to an endocrine disrupting chemical (the fungicide clotrimazole) on zebrafish (Danio rerio). We show that whilst inbreeding can negatively affect reproductive traits, not all traits are affected equally. Inbreeding depression frequently only became apparent when fish were additionally stressed by chemical exposure. Embryo viability was significantly reduced in inbred exposed fish and there was a tendency for inbred males to sire fewer offspring when in direct competition with outbred individuals. Levels of plasma 11-ketotestosterone, a key male sex hormone, showed substantial inbreeding depression that was unaffected by addition of the fungicide. In contrast, there was no effect of inbreeding or clotrimazole exposure on egg production. Overall, our data provide evidence that stress may amplify the effects of inbreeding on key reproductive traits, particularly those associated with male fitness. This may have important implications when considering the consequences of exposure to chemical pollutants on the fitness of wild populations.