Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Physiological plasticity v. inter-population variability: understanding drivers of hypoxia tolerance in a tropical estuarine fish

Geoffrey Mark Collins A B D , Timothy Darren Clark B C and Alexander Guy Carton A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture, College of Marine and Environmental Science, James Cook University, Townsville, Qld 4810, Australia.

B AIMS@JCU Collaborative Research Program, Townsville, Qld 4810, Australia.

C University of Tasmania and CSIRO Agriculture Flagship, Hobart, Tas. 7000, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: geoffreymcollins@gmail.com

Marine and Freshwater Research 67(10) 1575-1582 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF15046
Submitted: 5 February 2015  Accepted: 13 August 2015   Published: 13 October 2015

Abstract

Physiological plasticity and inter-population variability (e.g. local adaptation) are two key drivers in determining the capacity for species to cope with environmental change, yet the relative contribution of each parameter has received little attention. Here, we investigate the acclimation potential of two geographically distinct populations of the barramundi (Lates calcarifer) to diel hypoxia. Fish were exposed to a daily hypoxia challenge of 6 h below 62% saturation, down to a minimum of 10 ± 5% saturation, followed by a return to normoxia. Respiratory and haematological variables were assessed after 8 and 16 days of daily hypoxia exposure. Hypoxia tolerance (measured as the critical oxygen tension; [O2]crit) was not different between populations and not different from control fish after 8 days ([O2]crit = 20.7 ± 2.8% saturation), but improved similarly in both populations after 16 days ([O2]crit = 16.5 ± 3.1% saturation). This improvement corresponded with increases in haematocrit and haemoglobin, but not an increase in the mean cell haemoglobin concentration. Given the similarity of the response between these two geographically distinct populations, we conclude that hypoxia tolerance for barramundi may be more dependent on physiological plasticity than inherent variability between populations.

Additional keywords: barramundi, Lates calcarifer, local adaptation, oxygen.


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