Within Lake Tahoe (CA/NV), USA, multiple environmental stressors are present that can affect both native and nonnative fish species. Stressors include natural ultraviolet radiation (UVR) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Many PAHs, such as fluoranthene (FLU) are phototoxic to aquatic organisms in the presence of UVR. Decreasing levels of UVR due to eutrophication and increasing levels of PAHs due to recreational activities may combine to affect the relative ability of native versus nonnative fish species to survive in the lake. The objective of the present study was to examine the differential effects of exposure to different levels of UVR and phototoxic FLU in native and nonnative fish species. Responses to these changes in the native Lahontan redside minnow (Richardsonius egregius) and the nonnative warm-water bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus) were compared during toxicity tests, which were conducted in controlled outdoor exposures. Physiological defenses were also investigated in an attempt to elucidate ways each species may tolerate UVR and UVR + FLU exposures. It was determined that the native redside minnow is more tolerant to UVR and UVR + FLU exposure when compared to the nonnative bluegill. In addition, a natural UVR coping mechanism, increased pigmentation, is exhibited to a greater extent in the native redside. The present study will help determine the potential for a future successful invasion of the bluegill and similar species in Lake Tahoe and other oligotrophic, montane lakes that are susceptible to habitat alteration, nutrient inputs, and recreational activity. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2012; 31: 1129–1135. © 2012 SETAC
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