Authors
  • Gingerich, Andrew James
  • Cooke, Steven J.
  • Hanson, Kyle C.
  • Donaldson, Michael R.
  • Hasler, Caleb T.
  • Suski, Cory D.
  • Arlinghaus, Robert
Universities

Summary

At present, there is a reasonable understanding of the independent effects of catch-and-release (C&R) angling stressors, such as air exposure and water temperature, on endpoints such as physiological disturbance, behavioural impairment and mortality. However, little is known about the multiplicative or interactive nature of these different C&R stressors. This study used bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) as a model to evaluate the combined effects of water temperature and air exposure on fish behaviour, equilibrium status and short-term mortality following C&R. Experiments were replicated over 3 days with different ambient water temperatures (18.3, 22.8 and 27.4 °C). On each day, fish were captured by standard angling techniques, exposed to a range of air exposure durations (0, 30, 60, 120, 240, 480 and 960 s), and subsequently monitored for behavioural changes (within the first 300 s) and short-term (48 h) delayed mortality. Additional fish were captured by seine net for use as controls. There was an interactive effect of temperature and air exposure, whereby fish exposed to the highest temperature and longer air exposure durations lost equilibrium more often and had depressed ventilation rates relative to fish exposed to minimal air exposure and the lowest temperature. Immediate mortality at the lowest temperatures was negligible. However, significant delayed mortality (up to 80%) was noted at the highest water temperature (27.4 °C) in fish exposed to the three longest air exposure groups. In addition, at 27.4 °C, mortality among fish exposed to 480 and 960 s occurred at a faster rate than in any other treatment group. These results indicate that at low to moderate water temperatures, extended air exposure for bluegill may result in little mortality. However, at high water temperatures, short-term mortality (within 48 h) can be substantial, especially for fish that experience extended air exposure durations. Anglers and managers must recognize that C&R stressors can interact to have more dire consequences than when applied independently

Methodology

Sampling from lake docks (angling) and air exposure

Location