Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Higgs, Dennis (Biological Sciences)


Biology, Ecology.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Aquatic ecosystems are threatened by environmental contaminants and many heavy metals can influence the structure and function of vital sense organs in fishes. The current study examines cadmium effects on the auditory system in cyprinid fishes. In the lab, fish were exposed for 96h to a range of cadmium concentrations. Both hearing sensitivity and hair cell morphology were quantified. While hair cell numbers were unaffected, cadmium caused an increase in auditory threshold, with a critical range for toxic cadmium effects estimated at 2.1-2.9ug/L. In the field, fish were collected along the Detroit River to assess if differences in cadmium effects exist between sites. No differences in hair cell number or hearing sensitivity were observed between field sites. The current study demonstrates sub-lethal effects of cadmium on fish sensory function while also pointing to the need for more careful interpretation of cadmium impacts on aquatic populations.