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A tangled web: effects of cathinone-derived new psychoactive substances (NPS’) on the orb-weaving behaviour of araneus diadematus and the hunting abilities of pardosa agrestis

Greenhalgh, Leah Amy (2018) A tangled web: effects of cathinone-derived new psychoactive substances (NPS’) on the orb-weaving behaviour of araneus diadematus and the hunting abilities of pardosa agrestis. Masters thesis (MSc), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

New Psychoactive Substance (NPS) use has been increasing in popularity ever since mephedrone was reintroduced onto the drugs market in 2007. Legislation in the form of the Psychoactive Substances Act (PSA; 2016) in the UK aimed to outlaw NPS’ and whilst they are now illegal under this Act, the nature of the market means that they are still constantly evolving. This project discusses the synthesis and characterisation of the mephedrone analog and synthetic cathinone (±)-4’- (trifluoromethyl)methylcathinone (4-TFMMC) as well as three of its novel metabolites as racemic mixtures. NPS development takes place rapidly so robust reference standards were created pre-emptively to aid analytical bodies with the identification of these compounds before their anticipated debut onto the black market. Both mephedrone and 4-TFMMC were administered to Araneus diadematus to identify whether either of the compounds would have a significant effect on webbuilding, as the spider system is one that is well established. Though web-building is only governed by a few simple rules, it is a complex and intricate behavioural mechanism that can be easily disrupted. Mephedrone was also administered to Pardosa agrestis to assess whether the compound would affect hunting behaviour. Both spiders catch prey in drastically different ways and so the author wanted to evaluate the plasticity of P. agrestis and whether this system could be considered comparable to A. diadematus. It was found that 4-TFMMC did not significantly affect the webs that A. diadematus spun. Mephedrone seemed to affect the faculties of both spider systems in a similar way; A. diadematus spun webs with smaller free zone and capture spiral areas and P. agrestis exhibited diminished movement of the capture legs whilst capturing prey items. This study was not designed to establish the potential effects of the compounds on the spiders’ central nervous systems (CNS), though this is a route for future work to facilitate a more comprehensive understanding of how a spider system may be affected by synthetic cathinones.

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