Date of Completion
Honors College Thesis
Wildlife and Fisheries Biology
Climate change, cyanobacterial blooms, swim tunnel respirometry, essential fatty acids, fathead minnows
Climate change is predicted to cause an increase in cyanobacterial blooms, creating a food base with lower nutritional quality and thus negatively influencing the health and resiliency of other species in the food web. Fatty acids are used as tracers and health indicators in aquatic systems, providing a means of studying the effects of ecosystem disturbances such as cyanobacterial blooms on food webs. I investigated the influence of shifts in food quality and temperature on the respiratory physiology of the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) as a case study species. Previous research has addressed segments of this relationship, but the full connection between climate change and fish respiration has not been made in the literature. To bridge this disconnect, I compared the fatty acid composition and resting metabolic rates of fathead minnows held across a range of temperatures (12-28°C) and fed diets with contrasting fatty acid profiles, representing the potential variation in environmental conditions associated with climate change. I found a direct relationship between temperature and resting metabolic rate (i.e., metabolic rates are higher at warmer temperatures), as well as higher metabolic rates in minnows fed a diet with a higher content of essential fatty acids, but there were no significant synergistic or antagonistic effects of the combination of diet and temperature on fish metabolism. The results for fatty acid analysis were difficult to interpret due to lack of statistical power.
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Iannucci, Frances M., "Deeper Effects of Climate Change: The Influence of Temperature and Diet Quality on Fish Metabolism" (2015). UVM Honors College Senior Theses. 89.