Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Georgia
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Kellock, K., B. E. Trushel, P. C. Ely, C. A. Jennings, and R. B. Bringolf. 2014. Survey of intersex Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides from impoundments in Georgia USA. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 143:565-572.


Intersex fish are increasingly being reported worldwide, primarily in rivers that receive treated wastewater, but few studies have investigated intersex in waters that do not receive wastewater. In a recent reconnaissance survey of intersex fish in North America, a high rate of intersex was reported for Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides in some southeastern US rivers; however, the occurrence of intersex in impoundments has not been well-described, especially on a statewide scale. Therefore, our objective for this project was to survey the occurrence of intersex Largemouth Bass in a variety of impoundment habitats across Georgia. Largemouth Bass were collected from 11 impoundments without direct municipal or agricultural wastewater inputs. Gonads from all male Largemouth Bass were evaluated for the incidence and severity of the intersex condition based on presence and arrangement of testicular oocytes. Overall 48% of male Largemouth Bass collected from impoundments were intersex, which was found in 9 of the 11 impoundments. Among impoundments, incidence of intersex ranged from 0 - 82% of the males sampled and surface area of the impoundment was a strong predictor of intersex incidence (R = 0.88, p = 0.0003, n=11). Intersex fish were smaller than normal males but population-level effects of intersex and causative factors of endocrine disruption in the impoundments remain unknown. The high incidence of intersex males in small impoundments demonstrates that the condition is not confined to rivers and suggests that factors other than those previously associated with intersex (i.e., municipal wastewater) may be involved.