Algal toxin impairs sea lion memory and hippocampal connectivity, with implications for strandings

Peter F. Cook, Colleen Reichmuth, Andrew A. Rouse, Laura A. Libby, Sophie E. Dennison, Owen T. Carmichael, Kris T. Kruse-Elliott, Josh Bloom, Baljeet Singh, Vanessa A. Fravel, Lorraine Barbosa, Jim J. Stuppino, William G. Van Bonn, Frances M D Gulland, Charan Ranganath

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Abstract

Domoic acid (DA) is a naturally occurring neurotoxin known to harm marine animals. DA-producing algal blooms are increasing in size and frequency. Although chronic exposure is known to produce brain lesions, the influence of DA toxicosis on behavior in wild animals is unknown. We showed, in a large sample of wild sea lions, that spatial memory deficits are predicted by the extent of right dorsal hippocampal lesions related to natural exposure to DA and that exposure also disrupts hippocampal-thalamic brain networks. Because sea lions are dynamic foragers that rely on flexible navigation, impaired spatial memory may affect survival in the wild.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1545-1547
Number of pages3
JournalScience
Volume350
Issue number6267
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 18 2015
Externally publishedYes

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Cite this

Cook, P. F., Reichmuth, C., Rouse, A. A., Libby, L. A., Dennison, S. E., Carmichael, O. T., Kruse-Elliott, K. T., Bloom, J., Singh, B., Fravel, V. A., Barbosa, L., Stuppino, J. J., Van Bonn, W. G., Gulland, F. M. D., & Ranganath, C. (2015). Algal toxin impairs sea lion memory and hippocampal connectivity, with implications for strandings. Science, 350(6267), 1545-1547. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aac5675