The robust redhorse, Moxostoma robustum (Teleostei: Catostomidae), is an imperiled sucker native to large rivers of the Atlantic slope of the southeastern United States. Juvenile M. robustum were tested for tolerances to temperature, salinity, pH, and hypoxia in order to evaluate basic early life-history requirements. Static (acute) tests resulted in estimates of mean lower temperature tolerances (5.3-19.4 ??C) that varied with prior thermal acclimation and indicated no apparent difference in tolerance among fish 30, 60, and 90 days old. Fish acclimated to 20 ??C and 30 ??C had significantly different mean critical thermal maxima (34.9 ??C and 37.2 ??C, respectively) and exhibited pronounced increased opercular ventilation rates with elevated temperatures. Fish exposed to acute and chronic increases in salinity showed unusual patterns of mortality above the isosmotic point (9 ppt) that reflected possible differences in body mass and prior acclimation conditions (i.e., water ionic composition); small fish and those held in soft water were the least tolerant of increased salinity. Abrupt exposure to extreme pH values resulted in greater than 50% mortality at pH values below 4.3 and above 9.5 within a 96-hour period. Fish exposed to progressive hypoxia utilized aquatic surface respiration at a mean oxygen concentration of 0.72-0.80 mg O2 l-1 (20 ??C and 30 ??C acclimated fish, respectively), and lost equilibrium at 0.54-.57 mg O2 l-1. Juvenile M. robustum are moderately tolerant of a wide range of ambient physicochemical parameters, but further research is needed to determine how both abiotic and biotic factors have contributed to population decline and extirpation of this species.
Additional publication details
Physiological tolerances of juvenile robust redhorse, Moxostoma robustum: Conservation implications for an imperiled species