Non-native Asian swamp eel, Monopterus albus/javanensis (Zuiew, 1973/Lacepede, 1800), responses to low temperatures.
Asian swamp eel, Monopterus albus/javanensis [Zuiew, 1973/Lacepede 1800], has been established in the southeastern USA since at least 1994, yet little is known about its ability to survive low winter temperatures. We use standard thermal methodologies to quantify low temperature responses and provide a detailed description of swamp eel reactions to cold temperatures. When exposed to chronic temperature decreases of 1.0°C day-1, swamp eel ceased foraging at 15.0°C, markedly diminished movements below 11.0°C, and became incapacitated near 9.6°C. During critical thermal minima trials, swamp eel exposed to acute temperature drops (0.25°C min-1) tolerated temperatures as low as 6.2°C. Swamp eel exhibited a moderate cold acclimation response, gaining 0.23°C in cold tolerance for every 1°C drop in acclimation temperature. Progressive time-series critical thermal minimum temperatures (CTmin) estimates for eel acclimated to 20.5°C followed by an acute temperature decrease to 16.0°C, revealed that cold acclimation may occur in only 8 days. Fringe populations of swamp eel in their native range periodically experience colder winter temperatures, which may explain the ability of introduced populations to survive winter cold fronts in Florida. Understanding Asian swamp eel acute and chronic thermal limits may be useful in assessing dispersal risk and range expansion in the southeastern USA.