The primary goal of this experiment was to determine whether cadmium (Cd) exposure has sex-specific effects on the reproductive success of fathead minnows as measured by time to first spawn, spawning frequency, clutch size, fecundity, fertilization success, hatching success, and offspring mortality to 2 d post hatch. Prior to breeding, minnows were either exposed to 50 μg/L Cd or sham exposed for 21 d. After exposures, minnows were paired (male × female) into one of four breeding groups—control × control (C × C), control × exposed (C × E), exposed × control (E × C) or exposed × exposed (E × E). Pairs of minnows were subjected to a 21-d breeding study during which the reproductive parameters mentioned above were measured. During the breeding study, minnows in the E × E pairs had significantly higher mortality than minnows in the C × C pairs; however, the mortality of minnows in the C × E and E × C did not differ from that of C × C pairs. Presumably, behavioral alterations in both males and females exposed to Cd accounted for the increased mortality in the E × E group. The results of the breeding study did not reveal any significant differences among any of the reproductive parameters measured with the exception of offspring mortality. Offspring from C × E pairs did not differ from offspring from C × C pairs with regard to mortality; however, offspring from pairs containing exposed males (E × C and E × E) had significantly higher mortality than offspring from C × C pairs suggesting that paternal exposure to Cd leads to an increase in offspring mortality.
Exposure Period Clutch Size Fertilization Success Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrometry Breeding Period
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This study was partially supported by an Environmental Protection Agency Greater Research Opportunities Fellowship (#91636301-0) given to M.K.S. and by NIH grant # 1 P20 RR16469 from the BRIN Program of the National Center for Research Resources. Special thanks to Debbie Akerly for her assistance with fish care and maintenance.
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