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Heightened physiological stress implies a suboptimal shift in the swimming speed of Atlantic cod during acute progressive hypoxia

The swimming speed and physiological (stress) status of individual Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua L., was monitored in response to an acute vs. chronic progressive decline in water oxygen pressure (PO2 = 20.9 to 4.3kPa in 1h at 10oC). The behavioural activity response of cod in acute hypoxia appears to augment rather than offset major physiological stress and, therefore, has minimal adaptive value for this species under these conditions.

The behavioural response of cod in acute hypoxia appears to augment (vs. offset) major physiological stress. Therefore, with a noticeable imbalance between O2 supply and demand, the behavioural strategy of cod should be considered suboptimal in acute hypoxia and probably has minimal value for the survival of this species under such conditions.

The Atlantic cod is only moderately tolerant of low O2 (Plante et al., 1998; Herbert & Steffensen, In press) and, compared with more hypoxia tolerant species such as Solea solea (Dalla Via et al., 1998), is not likely to survive long in an environment experiencing large and rapid reductions in PO2.

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