The effect of environmental stressors on the development and behaviour of larval Oryzias latipes

Elevated water temperature and dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) are two environmental stressors that freshwater organisms face in the Anthropocene. Larval fishes are particularly susceptible to elevation in water parameters, as they are often confined to rearing habitats where temperature and CO2 are nearing species-specific maxima. In this study, 240 freshwater Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes) eggs were exposed to either control conditions (27˚C, ~ 500 µatm pCO2), elevated water temperature (36˚C), elevated CO2 (~1500 µatm pCO2) or both elevated temperature and CO2 (36˚C, ~1500 µatm pCO2). Exposures were applied either during the early, middle or late developmental stages and the morphological and behavioural data was collected ten days post-hatch. I predicted that elevated temperature and CO2 would decrease hatching success, and produce abnormalities in the swim bladder, spine or heart. In addition, I predicted that fish exposed to the stressors would show a change in swimming behaviour. Of the behavioural parameters observed, a significant difference was found in the distance travelled among the larval fish exposed to the treatments. There was no significant change between treatments or time intervals for hatching success, length or morphology. As rising CO2 and warming are likely to have a consequential impact on freshwater species, further research dedicated to understanding the ramification of climate-induced stressors is imperative.

McIntosh E., 2020. The effect of environmental stressors on the development and behaviour of larval Oryzias latipes. Thesis, University of Winnipeg, p30. Thesis.

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