Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Joseph R. Bidwell

Committee Members

Karl Joplin, Fred Alsop III


Organisms living in aquatic environments are subject to a number of stressors from natural (temperature, predation, food availability) and anthropogenic origins (pesticides, metals, etc). Natural stressors may amplify the effects of contaminants and increase an organism’s sensitivity to them. Understanding the impact of these combined factors is therefore essential for the practical management of contaminants. This study sought to examine how predatory cues affect copper tolerance in the mosquitofish, Gambusia affinis. The influence of predatory cues on fish metabolic rate was also evaluated to gain insight on any interactive effects between the natural stressor and copper. Alarm cues, chemicals released into the water when prey are injured were obtained from humanely sacrificed G. affinis, and kairomones, passive cues released by predators, were obtained from adult bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus). Paired 96-h toxicity tests with copper and predatory cue and with copper alone were conducted to determine the influence of predatory cues on G. affinis sensitivity to the metal. In the presence of alarm cue neither G. affinis copper tolerance or metabolic rate was altered. At copper concentrations ranging from 0.25mg Cu/L - 0.50mg Cu/L kairomone presence had no influence on survival, while between 0.50mg Cu/L and 1.0mg Cu/L, kairomone presence increased survival. Kairomone had no significant effect on metabolic rate. The apparent antagonistic effect between kairomone and copper may have resulted from the presence of organic material from predator-derived cues or from potential changes in fish behavior. This study adds to the growing body of literature which illustrates the complexity of stressor interactions in aquatic systems.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.

Included in

Biology Commons