SREL Reprint #2724




Respiratory and Reproductive Characteristics of Eastern Mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) Inhabiting a Coal Ash Settling Basin

B. P. Staub, W. A. Hopkins, J. Novak, and J. D. Congdon

Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, University of Georgia, Drawer E, Aiken, South Carolina 29802, USA

Abstract: Coal fly ash and effluent from coal ash settling basins negatively affects metabolism and reproduction in a variety of organisms, including a number of fish species. Some species, most notably the eastern mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki), are known to maintain viable populations in areas contaminated by coal ash. While eastern mosquitofish are present in these systems, their degree of tolerance to coal ash has not been investigated using sublethal metrics of exposure. It is possible that eastern mosquitofish persist in habitats affected by coal ash, but experience significant costs such as changes in metabolism and fecundity. Thus, we investigated the effects of coal ash on standard metabolic rate and reproduction of eastern mosquitofish inhabiting a coal-ash contaminated settling basin. Standard metabolic rates of mosquitofish from the ash contaminated site and a reference site (mean O2 consumption = 0.286 mL/g·h ± 0.007 and 0.291 ± 0.008 mL/g·h, respectively) were not significantly different. Despite elevated contaminant concentrations in ash basin females (selenium, arsenic, copper, and cadmium) and their offspring (selenium), brood sizes and offspring viability did not differ between clutches collected from ash basin and reference site females. Our data provide further evidence of the high degree of tolerance of eastern mosquitofishto exposure to aquatic coal ash disposal generated by power plants. However, the basis for such tolerance to ash remains unclear. Further investigations are required to determine whether such tolerance is a result of species-specific characteristics or population characteristics due to local adaptation.

SREL Reprint #2724

Staub, B. P., W. A. Hopkins, J. Novak, and J. D. Congdon. 2004. Respiratory and reproductive characteristics of eastern mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) inhabiting a coal ash settling basin. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 46:96-101.

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