Biological Invasions

, Volume 12, Issue 8, pp 2441–2457 | Cite as

Tolerance of nonindigenous cichlid fishes (Cichlasoma urophthalmus, Hemichromis letourneuxi) to low temperature: laboratory and field experiments in south Florida

  • Pamela J. Schofield
  • William F. Loftus
  • Robert M. Kobza
  • Mark I. Cook
  • Daniel H. Slone
Original Paper


The cold tolerance of two non-native cichlids (Hemichromis letourneuxi and Cichlasoma urophthalmus) that are established in south Florida was tested in the field and laboratory. In the laboratory, fishes were acclimated to two temperatures (24 and 28°C), and three salinities (0, 10, and 35 ppt). Two endpoints were identified: loss of equilibrium (11.5–13.7°C for C. urophthalmus; 10.8–12.5°C for H. letourneuxi), and death (9.5–11.1°C for C. urophthalmus; 9.1–13.3°C for H. letourneuxi). In the field, fishes were caged in several aquatic habitats during two winter cold snaps. Temperatures were lowest (4.0°C) in the shallow marsh, where no fish survived, and warmest in canals and solution-holes. Canals and ditches as shallow as 50 cm provided thermal refuges for these tropical fishes. Because of the effect on survival of different habitat types, simple predictions of ultimate geographic expansion by non-native fishes using latitude and thermal isoclines are insufficient for freshwater fishes.


Cichlidae Ecophysiology Everglades Low-temperature tolerance Non-native species Salinity 



This study was funded by the South Florida Water Management District, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Region 4) and the U.S. Geological Survey (Invasive Species Program). Jackie Langston and Denise Gregoire provided expert assistance in the field and laboratory. Eric Cline and Ryan Desliu provided assistance in the field at Loxahatchee. Shane Ruessler and Bob Lewis provided technical assistance in the laboratory. Jenn Rehage and Ashley Porter kindly provided assistance with fish husbandry in south Florida. Jeff Kline, Joel Trexler, Mike Robblee, Fred Sklar, Susan Newman and two anonymous reviewers kindly provided comments that enhanced the manuscript. This study was completed under International Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) approval USGS/FISC 2007-02 and Everglades National Park permit EVER-2007-SCI-0014. Any use of trade, product or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.


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Copyright information

© US Government 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pamela J. Schofield
    • 1
  • William F. Loftus
    • 2
    • 3
  • Robert M. Kobza
    • 4
  • Mark I. Cook
    • 4
  • Daniel H. Slone
    • 1
  1. 1.U.S. Geological SurveyGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Geological SurveyHomesteadUSA
  3. 3.Aquatic Research & CommunicationHomesteadUSA
  4. 4.South Florida Water Management DistrictEverglades DivisionWest Palm BeachUSA

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