The response of the tidepool sculpin, Oligocottus maculosus, to hypoxia in laboratory, mesocosm and field environments

Katherine A. Sloman, Milica Mandic, Anne E. Todgham, Nann A. Fangue, Peter Subrt, Jeffrey G. RichardS

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Animals living in the intertidal zone experience regular, predictable fluctuations in physical parameters including temperature, oxygen and salinity and rely on behavioural, physiological and biochemical mechanisms to cope with environmental variation. In the present study, behavioural strategies induced by aquatic hypoxia (e.g. emergence) were performed at similar oxygen tensions across laboratory, mesocosm and field environments; the number of individuals performing these behaviours at any one time was similar in mesocosms and the field. The use of aquatic surface respiration (ASR) was more plastic than emergence behaviour, occurring at a lower oxygen tension in juveniles than adults and being influenced by the addition of alarm substance. Oxygen uptake was lower in air than in water in adults but, in contrast, oxygen uptake was not influenced by the respiratory medium in juveniles. In the laboratory, 72 h of forced emergence did not affect whole body concentrations of lactate but when ASR and emergence were prevented within mesocosm environments there was a significant elevation of lactate. The present study highlights the benefits of transcending traditional laboratory/field boundaries allowing the responses of laboratory-held animals to environmental fluctuation to be integrated with how these animals perform in their natural environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-292
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology - Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • intertidal
  • cottidae
  • emergence
  • aquatic surface respiration


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