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Suppressing bullfrog larvae with carbon dioxide

March 1, 2014

Current management strategies for the control and suppression of the American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus = Rana catesbeiana Shaw) and other invasive amphibians have had minimal effect on their abundance and distribution. This study evaluates the effects of carbon dioxide (CO2) on pre- and prometamorphic Bullfrog larvae. Bullfrogs are a model organism for evaluating potential suppression agents because they are a successful invader worldwide. From experimental trials we estimated that the 24-h 50% and 99% lethal concentration (LC50 and LC99) values for Bullfrog larvae were 371 and 549 mg CO2/L, respectively. Overall, larvae that succumbed to experimental conditions had a lower body condition index than those that survived. We also documented sublethal changes in blood chemistry during prolonged exposure to elevated CO2. Specifically, blood pH decreased by more than 0.5 pH units after 9 h of exposure and both blood partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) and blood glucose increased. These findings suggest that CO2 treatments can be lethal to Bullfrog larvae under controlled laboratory conditions. We believe this work represents the necessary foundation for further consideration of CO2 as a potential suppression agent for one of the most harmful invaders to freshwater ecosystems.