Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Peter deFur


The present research examined respiratory responses of blue crabs to long term (4, 13, and 21 days) hypercapnic hypoxia in freshwater at 23 C. Hypoxic conditions (50-60 & 75-85 mmHg O2) were induced by allowing the crabs to consume their oxygen supply, resulting in a hypercapnic induced decrease in pH that remained through the exposure. Postbranchial hemolymph responses to hypoxia/hypercapnia in freshwater demonstrate decreases in PO2, increases in PCO2, and decreases in pH. Lactate levels decreased over time, but hemocyanin concentration was highly variable with no trends. PH, lactate, and hemocyanin observations also demonstrated high variability and a variety of different responses in individual crabs. There was no evidence of improving oxygen transport abilities. Despite varying responses high mortality rates were observed. The high mortality rate suggests blue crabs are not able to survive the multiple stress of hypoxia/hypercapnia along with the stress of living in freshwater. The mortality rates observed are much greater than previous blue crab hypoxic studies in saltwater. Elevated mortality may result from a failure of oxygen transport, acid-base balance or ion regulation.


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Is Part Of

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Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2009