Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 3447–3454 | Cite as

Swimming performance of a freshwater fish during exposure to high carbon dioxide

  • Eric VC SchneiderEmail author
  • Caleb T Hasler
  • Cory D Suski
Research Article


Deterring the spread of invasive fishes is a challenge for managers, and bigheaded carp (including bighead and silver carp, Hypophthalmichthys spp.) are invasive fish that have spread throughout large portions of the Mississippi River basin and threaten to invade the Great Lakes’ ecosystem. Studies have shown that elevated levels of carbon dioxide gas (CO2) have the ability to act as a nonphysical fish barrier, but little work has been done on the efficacy of CO2 to deter fish movement in flowing water. An annular swim flume was used to measure Uburst and sprint duration of the model species largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) across a range of pCO2 levels (< 400 μatm [ambient]; 10,000 μatm; 50,000 μatm; and 100,000 μatm). This species was tested as a proxy because of the likelihood of a similar CO2 response being produced, as well as constraints in obtaining and housing appropriately sized Asian carp. A significant decrease in Uburst swimming occurred when exposed to 100,000 μatm. No effects on sprint duration were detected. In both swimming tests, 15% of fish lost equilibrium when exposed to 50,000 μatm pCO2, while 50% of fish lost equilibrium when exposed to 100,000 μatm. Together, results define target levels for managers to impede the spread of largemouth bass and potentially other invasive freshwater fishes, helping guide policy to conserve aquatic ecosystems.


Barrier Climate change Hypercarbia Invasive species Swimming performance 



The authors would like to acknowledge Jianna Wankel for providing valuable assistance during the course of the experiment.

Funding information

Funding for this project was provided by the United States Geological Survey, through funds provided by the USEPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (G14AC00119).

Compliance with ethical standards

This work conformed to protocols set through the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) of the University of Illinois (Protocol #15137).

Supplementary material

11356_2018_3849_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (276 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 275 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Natural Resources and Environmental SciencesUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChampaignUSA
  2. 2.The Cape Eleuthera InstituteEleutheraBahamas
  3. 3.Department of BiologyThe University of WinnipegWinnipegCanada

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