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Increased gastrointestinal blood flow: An essential circulatory modification for euryhaline rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) migrating to sea

Journal article
Authors Jeroen Brijs
Michael Axelsson
Albin Gräns
Nicolas Pichaud
Catharina Olsson
Erik Sandblom
Published in Scientific Reports
Volume 5
Pages Article nr. 10430
ISSN 2045-2322
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Pages Article nr. 10430
Language en
Subject categories Biological Sciences, Animal physiology


The large-scale migrations of anadromous fish species from freshwater to seawater have long been considered particularly enigmatic, as this life history necessitates potentially energetically costly changes in behaviour and physiology. A significant knowledge gap concerns the integral role of cardiovascular responses, which directly link many of the well-documented adaptations (i.e. through oxygen delivery, water and ion transport) allowing fish to maintain osmotic homeostasis in the sea. Using long-term recordings of cardiorespiratory variables and a novel method for examining drinking dynamics, we show that euryhaline rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) initiate drinking long before the surrounding environment reaches full seawater salinity (30–33ppt), suggesting the presence of an external osmo-sensing mechanism. Onset of drinking was followed by a delayed, yet substantial increase in gastrointestinal blood flow through increased pulse volume exclusively, as heart rate remained unchanged. While seawater entry did not affect whole animal energy expenditure, enhanced gastrointestinal perfusion represents a mechanism crucial for ion and water absorption, as well as possibly increasing local gastrointestinal oxygen supply. Collectively, these modifications are essential for anadromous fish to maintain homeostasis at sea, whilst conserving cardiac and metabolic scope for activities directly contributing to fitness and reproductive success.

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