We evaluated the effects of a single electroshock on injury and mortality of hatchery-reared Cape Fear shiners Notropis mekistocholas (N = 517), an endangered cyprinid. Groups of 18-22 Cape Fear shiners were exposed to DC, 120-Hz pulsed DC (PDC), or 60-Hz PDC at voltage gradients of 1.1, 1.9, or 2.7 V/cm for 3 s. Mortality occurred only among fish exposed to 120-Hz PDC (25%) and DC (38%) applied at 2.7 V/cm. Because no mortality occurred in Cape Fear shiners exposed to 60-Hz PDC, this waveform was selected for further study of electroshock duration (3, 6, 12, 24, or 48 s) and voltage gradient (0.9, 1.6, or 2.3 V/cm). Most fish electroshocked in the experiments were immobilized (ceased swimming motion). No physical injury was detected by necropsy or radiography in any fish. Electroshock-induced mortality of Cape Fear shiners showed a strong multivariable relationship to voltage gradient, electroshock duration, and fish length. Fish subjected to 60-Hz PDC at 0.9 or 1.6 V/cm for 6 s experienced low mortality (<10%). Our results demonstrate that Cape Fear shiners can be immobilized by 60-Hz PDC electroshock without injury or significant risk of mortality. We propose that electrofishing may be safely used to sample similar small cyprinids, imperiled or otherwise, when electrofishers select an appropriate waveform (DC pulsed at 60-Hz or less) and use it judiciously (minimal exposure at, or below, the immobilization threshold).
Additional publication details
A predictive risk model for electroshock-induced mortality of the endangered Cape Fear shiner