Lowland stream fauna in areas of intensive agriculture are increasingly under threat from anthropogenic activities leading to eutrophication and subsequent hypoxia. Survival of hypoxic episodes depends upon a combination of behavioural and physiological adaptations. Responses of inanga (Galaxias maculatus: Galaxiidae) to aquatic hypoxia were investigated in the laboratory. Contrary to expectation inanga did not display behaviour that might reduce energy expenditure during oxygen limitation, with swimming activity slightly, but significantly elevated relative to normoxia. Instead, as dissolved oxygen concentrations decreased, the fish moved higher in the water column, increased their swimming speed and exhibited aquatic surface respiration. Physiological changes such as enhanced opercular frequency were also noted. As hypoxia deepened inanga started to leap out of the water, emersing themselves on a floating platform. Once emersed, fish exhibited an enhanced oxygen consumption rate compared to hypoxic fish. Thus inanga appear better adapted to escape hypoxia (a behavioural adaptation) rather than tolerate it (physiological adaptation). The emersion strategy used for inanga in response to severe hypoxia is in agreement with their ability to take up more oxygen from the air than from hypoxic water and therefore may justify the potentially increased risks of desiccation and predation associated with leaving the water.
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Physiology and Behavior|
|Publication status||Published - 3 May 2011|
- Aquatic surface respiration
- Opercular frequency
- Oxygen consumption