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The effect of acute temperature increases on the cardiorespiratory performance of resting and swimming sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)

Journal article
Authors M.F. Steinhausen
Erik Sandblom
E.J. Eliason
C Verhille
A. P. Farrell
Published in Journal of Experimental Biology
Volume 211
Pages 3915-3926
ISSN 0022-0949
Publication year 2008
Published at Department of Zoology
Pages 3915-3926
Language en
Keywords Pacific salmon, cardiac output, heart rate, oxygen consumption, respiration, temperature
Subject categories Animal physiology


The mechanism underlying the decrease in aerobic scope in fish at warm temperatures is not fully understood and is the focus of this research. Our study examined oxygen uptake and delivery in resting, swimming and recovering sockeye salmon while water temperature was acutely increased from 15°C to 24°C in 2°C h–1 increments. Fish swam at a constant speed during the temperature change. By simultaneously measuring oxygen consumption (O2), cardiac output () and the blood oxygen status of arterial and venous blood, we were able to determine where in the oxygen cascade a limitation appeared when fish stopped sustained swimming as temperature increased. High temperature fatigue of swimming sockeye salmon was not a result of a failure of either oxygen delivery to the gills or oxygen diffusion at the gills because oxygen partial pressure (PO2) and oxygen content (CO2) in arterial blood did not decrease with increasing temperature, as would be predicted for such limitations. Instead, arterial oxygen delivery (TaO2) was initially hampered due to a failure to adequately increase with increasing temperature. Subsequently, lactate appeared in the blood and venous PO2 remained constant.

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