Tolerance to hypercarbia is repeatable and related to a component of the metabolic phenotype in a freshwater fish

Caleb T. Hasler, Ian A. Bouyoucos, Cory D. Suski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Freshwater fish may be exposed to high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) because of several actions, including anesthesia and high levels of aquatic respiration and potentially as the result of using high-CO2 plumes as a barrier to the movements of invasive fishes. Metabolic phenotype can potentially drive how freshwater fish respond to high CO2. We therefore quantified how tolerance (measured using time to equilibrium loss [ELT]) was driven by metabolic phenotype in a cosmopolitan freshwater fish species, Micropterus salmoides. ELT was repeatable, with 60% of the variance across trials attributable to individual differences. For each fish, standard metabolic rate and maximum metabolic rate were measured using respirometers and time to exhaustion after a chase test was recorded. Fish with high anaerobic performance were less tolerant to elevated CO2, potentially as a result of preexisting metabolic acidosis. Standard metabolic rate and aerobic scope did not predict ELT. Our findings define which fish may be more vulnerable to high CO2, a potential mechanism for this tolerance, and show that tolerance to high CO2 may be acted on by natural selection. Should freshwater ecosystems become elevated in CO2, by either natural means or anthropogenic means, it is possible that there is potential for heritable selection of CO2 tolerance, evidenced by the fact that ELT was found to be repeatable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)583-587
Number of pages5
JournalPhysiological and Biochemical Zoology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017


  • Acidification
  • Aerobic scope
  • Anaerobic activity
  • Equilibrium loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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