SREL Reprint #0932




A Thermal Effluent as a Sporadic Cornucoplia:  Effects on Fish and Zooplankton

John Janssen and John P. Giesy



We report effects of a thermal effluent on fish and zooplankton in an impoundment in South Carolina.  The effects are not directly due to heated effluent but are indirect effects on the trophic dynamics of the system and depend on the physical structure of the system, season, and geography.  As effluent from a nuclear reactor cooling pond (Pond C) enters the larger Par Pond it sporadically carries with it zooplankton and/or dead fish.  Pond C produces high zooplankton densities in two situations:  (1) high and hot effluent flow during cold winter weather; and (2) low (cool) effluent flow during warmer seasons.  High zooplankton densities attract blueback herring, Alosa aestivalis, which attract largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides.  Dying and dead bluegills, Lepomis macrochirus from Pond C (heat killed) are eaten by Par Pond bass which swim into effluent temperatures as high as 46C to take these easy prey.  Blueback herring and largemouth bass distribution are affected by the presence of food rather than by temperature.  Par Pond blueback herring appear to be available to bass mainly when herring are near the effluent from Pond C and when they spawn in spring in the littoral zone.  Because blueback herring in Par Pond live only one year and because their presence in bass habitat is seasonal there is a strong seasonal component to bass food abundance.  A previously reported annual oscillation in bass condition (K), with a peak in winter, occurs throughout Par Pond but is extreme in the vicinity of the effluent.  The strong seasonality of food abundance for bass at the effluent correlates the winter peak in bass condition.

Keywords:  Thermal effects, Thermoregulation, Predation, Stress, Bluegill, Largemouth bass, Blueback Herring


SREL Reprint #0932

Janssen, J. and J.P. Giesy. 1984. A thermal effluent as a sporadic cornucopia: effects on fish and zooplankton. Environmental Biology of Fishes 11:191-203.

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