Quantifying ultraviolet radiation mortality risk in bluegill larvae: Effects of nest location

  • Olson M
  • Colip M
  • Gerlach J
 et al. 
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Ultraviolet (UV) radiation (280-400 nm) is an increasing threat to
aquatic organisms due to stratospheric ozone depletion and reductions in
concentrations of dissolved organic carbon. Because fish are most
vulnerable to UV during the egg and larval stages, parental spawning
site selection can strongly influence mortality risk. We examined the
role of nest location in determining UV-induced mortality risk for
bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) in Lake Giles, Pennsylvania, USA. In a
series of five short-term incubation experiments, we found that survival
of yolk sac larvae across the range of depths at which bluegill spawn
was significantly lower in the presence of ambient-UV levels relative to
larvae that were shielded from UV radiation. In addition, survival
decreased as a function of cumulative UV exposure, as measured by the
number of cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers per megabase DNA in DNA
dosimeters. Although UV had the potential to significantly reduce larval
survival, DNA dosimeters placed in bluegill nests concurrently with
incubation experiments indicated that most nests were exposed to
relatively low levels of UV. Only 19% of nests had predicted UV-induced
mortality greater than 25%. Consequently, current levels of UV may be
an important mortality source at the level of individual nests, but not
at the population level. One reason for the weak predicted effect of UV
on bluegill survival is that many nests were located at depths by which
much of the incident UV had been attenuated. In addition, many of the
shallower nests were protected by overhanging trees or other submerged
structures. It is important to note that Lake Giles is highly
transparent and therefore not representative of all lakes in which
bluegill are found. Nevertheless, Lake Giles is a natural system and may
be representative of north temperate lakes in the future.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Bluegill
  • DNA dosimeter
  • Fish larvae
  • Lepomis macrochirus
  • Mortality
  • Nest location
  • Quantile regression
  • Ultraviolet radiation

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  • Mark H. Olson

  • Matthew R. Colip

  • Justin S. Gerlach

  • David L. Mitchell

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