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Effects of thermal effluent on body condition of largemouth bass

Nature volume 274, pages 470471 (03 August 1978) | Download Citation

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Abstract

PAR POND, an 1,100-hectare reservoir in South Carolina, has received heated effluent from a nuclear production reactor since 1957. A notable feature of the reservoir1 is the abundance and abnormally high catchability of largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides2). Most reported responses of bass to the thermal situation in Par Pond are interpreted as inconsequential3–7; increases in the densities of certain intestinal parasites8 and the incidence of red-sore disease9 in thermal areas are considered detrimental. Fishery scientists use body condition10 as an index for estimating a fish's well-being or fitness11 as well as the relative suitability of the habitat12. Body condition (K) of an individual is established by the relationship K = 105 W × L−3, where W = body weight (g) and L = standard length (mm). However, caution must be exercised to ensure that ontogenetic changes in body shape, seasonal and sex differences, and small sample sizes do not preclude the effective use of the index for comparative purposes among individuals10. This report takes these reservations into account and compares body condition of largemouth bass collected from heated and unheated waters in Par Pond. The unique feature of this study is that data from 10 years are available on a large sample (n > 10,000) of largemouth bass, an important species of warm water sport fish. Lower body condition is associated with moderate thermal conditions comparable to many industrial settings and is correlated with lower levels of stored fat and with the incidence of red-sore disease.

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Author information

Affiliations

  1. Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Aiken, South Carolina 29801

    • J. WHITFIELD GIBBONS
  2. College of Forestry, Wildlife and Range Science, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho 83843

    • DAVID H. BENNETT
  3. Department of Biology, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27109

    • GERALD W. ESCH
    •  & TERRY C. HAZEN

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https://doi.org/10.1038/274470a0

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