A systematic evidence map and bibliometric analysis of the behavioural impacts of pesticide exposure on zebrafish

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2024.123630. This is version 1 of this Preprint.

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Kyle Morrison , Yefeng Yang, Manuela Santos Santana, Malgorzata Lagisz, Shinichi Nakagawa


Pesticides are indispensable in agriculture and have become ubiquitous in aquatic environments. Pesticides in natural environments can cause many negative impacts on aquatic species, ranging from mortality to sub-lethal physiological and behavioural changes. The complex sub-lethal impacts of pesticides are routinely tested on model species, with zebrafish (Danio rerio) being regularly used as a behavioural model. Although behavioural ecotoxicology research using zebrafish is increasing rapidly, we lack quantitative evidence to support which pesticides have been tested and how study designs are carried out. This shortcoming not only limits the deliberate planning for future primary studies to fill the knowledge gaps but also hinders evidence synthesis. To provide quantitative evidence of what pesticides are currently studied and what study designs are used, we combined a systematic evidence map approach and bibliometric analysis. This novel method has been coined research weaving and allows us to elicit gaps and clusters in our evidence base, whilst showing connections between authors and institutions. The methodology can be summarised in five primary steps: literature searching, screening, extraction, data analysis and bibliometric analysis. We identified four areas where research on the sub-lethal effects of pesticide exposure on zebrafish is lacking. First, some widely used pesticides, such as neonicotinoids, are understudied. Second, most studies do not report important elements of the study design, namely the sex and the life-stage of the zebrafish. Third, some behaviours, such as impacts of pesticide exposure on zebrafish cognition, are underexplored. And last, we revealed through the bibliometric analysis that most of the research is conducted in developed countries and there is limited cross country co-authorships. Upon identifying these gaps, we offer solutions for each limitation, emphasizing the importance of diverse global research output and cross-country co-authorships. Our systematic evidence map and bibliometric analysis provide valuable insights for helping to guide future research, which can be used to help support evidence-based policy decisions.




Physical Sciences and Mathematics


fish, agrochemicals, Behavior, Pollution, toxicology


Published: 2023-10-27 05:05


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Conflict of interest statement:
There is no conflict of interest to declare.

Data and Code Availability Statement:
The complete data and code are provided in full within an external GitHub repository; see (https://github.com/KyleMorrison99/zebrafishSM). Additionally, a knitted Rmarkdown file can be found as a webpage: https://kylemorrison99.github.io/zebrafishSM/.