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Repeatability of Hypoxia Tolerance of Individual Juvenile Striped Bass Morone saxatilis and Effects of Social Status.
Nelson, JA; Kraskura, K; Lipkey, GK
Chesapeake Bay is the primary nursery for striped bass (Morone saxatilis), which are increasingly being exposed to hypoxic waters. Tolerance to hypoxia in fish is generally determined by a single exposure of an isolated individual or by exposing large groups of conspecifics to hypoxia without regard to social status. The importance of social context in determining physiological responses to stressors is being increasingly recognized. To determine whether social interactions influence hypoxia tolerance (HT) in striped bass, loss of equilibrium HT was assessed in the same fish while manipulating the social environment around it. Small group settings were used to be more representative of the normal sociality experienced by this species than the paired encounters typically used. After establishing the dominance hierarchy within a group of fish, HT was determined collectively for the individuals in that group, and then new groups were constructed from the same pool of fish. Individuals could then be followed across multiple settings for both repeatability of HT and hierarchy position ((X) over bar =4.2 +/- 0.91 SD groups per individual). HT increased with repeated exposures to hypoxia (P < 0.001), with a significant increase by a third exposure (P = 0.004). Despite this changing HT, rank order of HT was significantly repeatable across trials for 6 mo (P=0.012). Social status was significantly repeatable across trials of different group composition (P = 0.02) and unrelated to growth rate but affected HT weakly in a complex interaction with size. Final HT was significantly correlated with blood [hemoglobin] and hematocrit. The repeatability and large intraspecific variance of HT in juvenile striped bass suggest that HT is potentially an important determinant of Darwinian fitness in an increasingly hypoxic Chesapeake Bay.
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