MEPS 599:201-208 (2018)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12629

Individual variation in aerobic scope affects modeled vertical foraging migration in Atlantic cod Gadus morhua, but only in moderate hypoxia

Jane W. Behrens*, Jon C. Svendsen, Stefan Neuenfeldt, Niels G. Andersen, Mikael van Deurs

National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark (DTU Aqua), Kemitorvet, 2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Vertical migration is the most widespread migration in the aquatic world, yet the mechanisms limiting the extent of this behavior are largely unknown. In the Baltic Sea, some Atlantic cod Gadus morhua perform vertical foraging migrations into severely hypoxic demersal zones where aerobic metabolism is insufficient to cover energy requirements. After foraging, the fish return to better oxygenated waters for physiological recovery and digestion. To test the influence of phenotypic variation in aerobic scope (AS; the difference between the maximum and the minimum metabolic rate) on the capacity to migrate into severely hypoxic zones, we incorporated AS into a state-dependent individual-based model simulating vertical foraging migrations of G. morhua. We found little effect of individual variation in AS on the capacity for vertical migration when the zone used for physiological recovery was normoxic. In contrast, when there was moderate hypoxia (30% air saturation, O2sat) in the zone used for physiological recovery, the high AS phenotype had a clear advantage because it could forage 3-4 times longer in the severely hypoxic (16% O2sat, i.e. below the threshold for aerobic metabolism of the species) demersal zone compared to the low AS phenotype. Thus, phenotypic variation in AS is only important when there is moderate hypoxia in the zone used for physiological recovery, suggesting that the influence of AS variation on the capacity for vertical migration is context dependent. We propose that elevated AS may be evolutionarily favorable when hypoxia prevails in the water column.


KEY WORDS: Physiology · Behavior · Baltic Sea · Bioenergetics · Aerobic scope · Hypoxia · Gadus morhua · Individual-based model


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Cite this article as: Behrens JW, Svendsen JC, Neuenfeldt S, Andersen NG, van Deurs M (2018) Individual variation in aerobic scope affects modeled vertical foraging migration in Atlantic cod Gadus morhua, but only in moderate hypoxia. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 599:201-208. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12629

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