Changing the serotonin levels in crickets makes them less active and less aggressive. But changing the dopamine levels of crickets did not change their behavior. These results raise the issue of how increasing levels of pharmaceuticals leaking into nature through our wastewater may affect animals.

Animal personality has been described in a range of species with ecological and evolutionary consequences. Factors shaping and maintaining variation in personality are not fully understood, but monoaminergic systems are consistently linked to personality variation. We experimentally explored how personality was influenced by alterations in two key monoamine systems: dopamine and serotonin. This was done using ropinirole and fluoxetine, two common human pharmaceuticals. Using the Mediterranean field cricket (Gryllus bimaculatus), we focused on the personality traits activity, exploration, and aggression, with confirmed repeatability in our study. Dopamine manipulations explained little variation in the personality traits investigated, while serotonin manipulation reduced both activity and aggression. Due to limited previous research, we created a dose-response curve for ropinirole, ranging from concentrations measured in surface waters to human therapeutic doses. No ropinirole dose level strongly influenced cricket personality, suggesting our results did not come from a dose mismatch. Our results indicate that the serotonergic system explains more variation in personality than manipulations of the dopaminergic system. Additionally, they suggest that monoamine systems differ across taxa, and confirm the importance of the mode of action of pharmaceuticals in determining their effects on behaviour.

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