Retrospective and Predictive Investigation of Fish Kill Events

Nicholas B.D. Phelps, Irene Bueno, Daniela A. Poo-Muñoz, Sarah J. Knowles, Sarah Massarani, Rebecca Rettkowski, Ling Shen, Heidi Rantala, Paula L.F. Phelps, Luis E. Escobar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Fish kill investigations are critical to understanding threats to aquatic ecosystems and can serve as a measure of environmental disruption as well as an early indicator of emerging disease. The goal of this study was to analyze historical data related to such events among wild fish populations in Minnesota in order to assess the quality and completeness of the data and potential trends in fish kills. After excluding events with incomplete data (e.g., in which the location was not reported), we analyzed 225 unique fish kills from 2003 to 2013 that were recorded in two Minnesota Department of Natural Resources databases. The most reported fish kills occurred during 2007 (n = 41) and during the month of June (n = 81) across all years. Centrarchid species were present in the most fish kills (138), followed by cyprinid and ictalurid species, which were present in 53 and 40 events, respectively. Environmental factors were the most common cause of death reported. Models of environmental factors revealed that the maximum nighttime land surface temperature was the most critical factor in fish mortality, followed by changes in primary productivity and human disturbances. During the course of this study, data gaps were identified, including underreporting, inconsistent investigation, and the lack of definitive diagnoses, making interpretation of our results challenging. Even so, understanding these historical trends and data gaps can be useful in generating hypotheses and advancing data collection systems for investigating future fish kills. Our study is a primer investigation of fish kills providing information on the plausible areas, seasons, and fish groups at risk that can guide active environmental monitoring and epidemiological surveillance of fishes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-70
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Aquatic Animal Health
Volume31
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported in part by the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine Summer Scholars Program and Merial. We would like to thank Marilyn Danks from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for providing access to the department's Spills and Kills Books. Thanks to Sara Sokolik for her assistance in organizing data. Finally, we would like to thank the many MNDNR biologists and water resource managers and members of the public who reported fish kills during the study period. There is no conflict of interest declared in this article.

Funding Information:
This project was supported in part by the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine Summer Scholars Program and Merial. We would like to thank Marilyn Danks from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for providing access to the department’s Spills and Kills Books. Thanks to Sara Sokolik for her assistance in organizing data. Finally, we would like to thank the many MNDNR biologists and water resource managers and members of the public who reported fish kills during the study period. There is no conflict of interest declared in this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Fisheries Society

Copyright:
Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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