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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Combined effects of warming and hypoxia on early life stage Chinook salmon physiology and development.

  • Author(s): Del Rio, Annelise M
  • Davis, Brittany E
  • Fangue, Nann A
  • Todgham, Anne E
  • et al.

Early life stages of salmonids are particularly vulnerable to warming and hypoxia, which are common stressors in hyporheic, gravel bed, rearing habitat (i.e. a 'redd'). With the progression of global climate change, high temperatures and hypoxia may co-occur more frequently within redds, particularly for salmonid species at their southern range limit. Warming and hypoxia have competing effects on energy supply and demand, which can be detrimental to energy-limited early life stages. We examined how elevated temperature and hypoxia as individual and combined stressors affected the survival, physiological performance, growth, and development of Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). We reared late fall-run Chinook salmon from fertilization to the fry stage in a fully factorial design of two temperatures [10°C (ambient) and 14°C (warm)] and two oxygen levels [normoxia (100% air saturation, 10 mg O2/l) and hypoxia (50% saturation, 5.5 mg O2/l)]. Rearing in hypoxia significantly reduced hatching success, especially in combination with warming. Both warming and hypoxia improved acute thermal tolerance. While rearing in hypoxia improved tolerance to acute hypoxia stress, warming reduced hypoxia tolerance. Hypoxia-reared fish were smaller at hatch, but were able to reach similar sizes to the normoxia-reared fish by the fry stage. High temperature and normoxia resulted in the fastest rate of development while low temperature and hypoxia resulted in the slowest rate of development. Despite improved physiological tolerance to acute heat and hypoxia stress, hypoxia-reared embryos had reduced survival and growth, which could have larger population-level effects. These results suggest that both warming and hypoxia are important factors to address in conservation strategies for Chinook salmon.

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