Nitrite tolerance in the eastern mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki): background nitrogen pollution shapes interpopulation differences

  • Nitrogen pollution is a major constituent of global change, threatening local biodiversity, ecosystem services, and causing serious environmental damage. Specifically, in areas with heavy agricultural soil-use, excessive use of nitrogen fertilizer pollutes the groundwaters with nitrates, but also with ammonia and nitrites. Freshwater fish and other aquatic fauna are especially vulnerable to nitrites, which can cause massive mortalities at even low concentrations < 0.1 mg/l NO2- - N. Adaptation of fish to environments with relatively high concentrations of chemicals has occurred throughout the history of life, although contemporary evolution acts at a much more rapid pace. The growing use of land for mass agriculture and livestock industries in the last 50 years in Florida has dramatically increased the nutrient loading into the groundwaters that feed the springs. Nitrite poses a serious threat for freshwater fauna as it is rapidly up taken and disturbs ion homeostasis and blood gas transport in fish. In this study, we evaluated, by means of a common-garden experiment, the tolerance of fish to nitrite using three different populations of eastern mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) with different background nitrogen pollution histories. Mosquitofish females were exposed to nitrite in the lab, to either < 0.005 mg/l NO2- (control) or 0.3 mg/l NO2- for ten days and we assessed at the end of the exposure period their blood O2 transport capacity by measuring the concentration of four different types of hemoglobin, their total hematocrit, and their respiratory rates. Preliminary results show slight but significant varying patterns in the response of the exposed fish, depending on the population source, as evidenced by their respiratory rates and the blood erythrocyte counts. Mortality was very low, and hemoglobin profiles indicate high tolerance of G. holbrooki to nitrite contamination – a factor supporting their invasion success in agriculturally dominated regions around the world.

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Author:Oriol Cano RocabayeraORCiD, Kevin J. KrollORCiD, Jonas JourdanORCiDGND, Nancy D. DenslowORCiD
Publisher:Universitätsbibliothek J. C. Senckenberg
Place of publication:Frankfurt am Main
Document Type:Conference Proceeding
Date of Publication (online):2023/11/15
Date of first Publication:2022/11/14
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Contributing Corporation:SETAC North America. Annual Meeting (43. : 2022 : Pittsburgh, Pa.; Online)
Release Date:2023/11/23
Page Number:22
Institutes:Biowissenschaften / Institut für Ökologie, Evolution und Diversität
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 59 Tiere (Zoologie) / 590 Tiere (Zoologie)
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY - Namensnennung 4.0 International