In this study, the hypoxia tolerance of three Everglades fishes, two native centrarchids (Lepomis gulosus and Lepomis marginatus) and a recently introduced cichlid (Hemichromis letourneuxi), were documented. Aquatic surface respiration (ASR) thresholds were lowest for H. letourneuxi, followed by L. gulosus, then L. marginatus. The ASR thresholds for L. marginatus were within ranges reported for small, freshwater tropical fishes, while those for L. gulosus were similar to swamp-adapted fishes. For H. letourneuxi, ASR thresholds were some of the lowest reported. All three species showed excellent tolerance of low dissolved oxygen levels when allowed access to the surface. When denied surface access, L. marginatus lost equilibrium at a higher oxygen tension than the other species. Overall, although all species easily tolerated hypoxia, H. letourneuxi appeared to be best equipped to deal with hypoxia, followed by L. gulosus, then L. marginatus. Hemichromis letourneuxi also exhibited more aggressive behaviours than the centrarchids. These results suggest that hypoxia is not likely to prevent H. letourneuxi from exploiting the seasonally inundated wetlands of south Florida while expanding its range there.
Additional publication details
Hypoxia tolerance of two centrarchid sunfishes and an introduced cichlid from karstic Everglades wetlands of southern Florida, U.S.A.