AB 23:101-108 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00609

Behavioural and reflex responses of mottled mojarra Eucinostomus lefroyi (Gerreidae) to cold shock exposure

Emma Samson, Jacob W. Brownscombe*, Steven J. Cooke

Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory, Ottawa-Carleton Institute for Biology, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Dr., Ottawa, ON K1S 5B6, Canada
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Global climate change is predicted to increase incidences of abrupt declines in oceanic temperatures due to storms or upwelling. Fish occupying shallow, near-shore marine habitats may be vulnerable to mortality or sub-lethal fitness effects due to cold shock. Mottled mojarra Eucinostomus lefroyi are a ubiquitous prey species associated with subtropical and tropical coastal habitats and thus serve as a model for evaluating the consequences of cold shock events. Here, we conducted one of the first studies of cold shock on a tropical-subtropical fish species. Fish acclimated to 24°C were exposed to acute temperature drops to 16, 18, or 20°C for 1 h. Ventilation rates were assessed every 15 min during exposure, and equilibrium loss every 5 min. Thirty minutes after cold shock exposure, fish were placed in a circular swim flume and chased by hand until exhaustion to measure chase time and distance chased as proxies for swimming capabilities. Fish exposed to 18 and 20°C had significantly higher ventilation rates than those exposed to 16°C or controls held at 24°C. Exposure to 16 and 18°C caused reflex impairment (e.g. no response to tail grabbing), while exposure to 20°C caused no impairment. After 30 min of recovery at ambient temperature, no reflex impairments were detected in any of the treatments, and the swimming capabilities of fish exposed to cold shock were similar to, or better than control fish. Our findings suggest that abrupt changes in water temperature >4°C below ambient can cause behavioural impairments that may lead to mortality in this species.


KEY WORDS: Cold shock · Thermal biology · Subtropics · Mottled mojarra · Reflex Action Mortality Predictors · RAMP


Full text in pdf format  
Cite this article as: Samson E, Brownscombe JW, Cooke SJ (2014) Behavioural and reflex responses of mottled mojarra Eucinostomus lefroyi (Gerreidae) to cold shock exposure. Aquat Biol 23:101-108. https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00609

Export citation
Mail this link - Contents Mailing Lists - RSS
- -