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Hypoxia during incubation does not affect aerobic performance or haematology of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) when re-exposed in later life

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posted on 2019-01-01, 00:00 authored by Andrew T Wood, Sarah J Andrewartha, Nicholas G Elliott, Peter B Frappell, Timothy ClarkTimothy Clark
Hypoxia in aquatic ecosystems is becoming increasingly prevalent, potentially reducing fish performance and survival by limiting the oxygen available for aerobic activities. Hypoxia is a challenge for conserving and managing fish populations and demands a better understanding of the short- and long-term impacts of hypoxic environments on fish performance. Fish acclimate to hypoxia via a variety of short- and long-term physiological modifications in an attempt to maintain aerobic performance. In particular, hypoxia exposure during early development may result in enduring cardio-respiratory modifications that affect future hypoxia acclimation capacity, yet this possibility remains poorly investigated. We incubated Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in normoxia (~100% dissolved oxygen [DO, as percent air saturation]), moderate hypoxia (~63% DO) or cyclical hypoxia (100–25% DO daily) from fertilization until 113 days post-fertilization prior to rearing all groups in normoxia for a further 8 months. At ~11 months of age, subsets of each group were acclimated to hypoxia (50% DO) for up to 44 days prior to haematology, aerobic metabolic rate and hypoxia tolerance measurements. Hypoxia exposure during incubation (fertilization to 113 days post-fertilization) did not affect the haematology, aerobic performance or hypoxia tolerance of juvenile salmon in later life. Juveniles acclimated to hypoxia increased maximum aerobic metabolic rate and aerobic scope by ~23 and ~52%, respectively, when measured at 50% DO but not at 100% DO. Hypoxia-incubated juveniles also increased haematocrit and haemoglobin concentration but did not affect acute hypoxia tolerance (critical oxygen level and DO at LOE). Thus, while Atlantic salmon possess a considerable capacity to physiologically acclimate to hypoxia by improving aerobic performance in low oxygen conditions, we found no evidence that this capacity is influenced by early-life hypoxia exposure.



Conservation physiology






1 - 13


Oxford University Press


Oxford, Eng.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal