Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects

Effects of Drought the Lipid Content in Fundulus Catenatus

Angelena Edwards, Western Kentucky University

Document Type Thesis


During severe drought, small streams often dry to small isolated pools with subsequent high densities of fishes. Under such conditions, fish may be stressed by high temperatures, low food availability, and lack of refugia from predators. I was interested in whether fish restricted to isolated pools burn more calories than they take in, resulting in a loss of storage lipids (high energy molecules) in their bodies. During the 2007 drought, I collected Fundulus catenatus (northern studfish) from small stream communities in the Drake’s Creek watershed in south central Kentucky. I examined storage lipid content by processing each fish through a series of petroleum ether washes and calculated the % storage lipid in each fish’s body. The average % storage lipid of fish in isolated pools was decrease than that from free flowing streams. I found that fish from small isolated pools in the headwaters of the creek had higher % storage lipid content than those fish living in free-flowing sections of the creek downstream.