Potential Impact of Low-Concentration Silver Nanoparticles on Predator-Prey Interactions Between Predatory Dragonfly Nymphs and Daphnia Magna as a Prey

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This study investigated the potential impacts of low-concentration citrate-coated silver nanoparticles (citrate-nAg; 2 μg L-1 as total Ag) on the interactions of Daphnia magna Straus (as a prey) with the predatory dragonfly (Anax junius: Odonata) nymph using the behavioral, survival, and reproductive end points. Four different toxicity bioassays were evaluated: (i) horizontal migration; (ii) vertical migration; (iii) 48 h survival; and (iv) 21 day reproduction; using four different treatment combinations: (i) Daphnia + citrate-nAg; (ii) Daphnia + predator; (iii) Daphnia + citrate-nAg + predator; and (iv) Daphnia only (control). Daphnia avoided the predators using the horizontal and vertical movements, indicating that Daphnia might have perceived a significant risk of predation. However, with citrate-nAg + predator treatment, Daphnia response did not differ from control in the vertical migration test, suggesting that Daphnia were unable to detect the presence of predator with citrate-nAg treatment and this may have potential implication on daphnids population structure owing to predation risk. The 48 h survival test showed a significant mortality of Daphnia individuals in the presence of predators, with or without citrate-nAg, in the test environment. Average reproduction of daphnids increased by 185% with low-concentration citrate-nAg treatment alone but was severely compromised in the presence of predators (decreased by 91.3%). Daphnia reproduction was slightly enhanced by approximately 128% with citrate-nAg + predator treatment. Potential mechanisms of these differential effects of low-concentration citrate-nAg, with or without predators, are discussed. Because silver dissolution was minimal, the observed toxicity could not be explained by dissolved Ag alone. These findings offer novel insights into how exposure to low-concentration silver nanoparticles could influence predator-prey interactions in the fresh water systems.