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Open Access The Effect of Otolith Malformation on Behavior and Cortisol Levels in Juvenile Red Drum Fish (Sciaenops ocellatus)

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Captive-raised red drum fish were observed with phenotypic abnormalities, including deformities of the spine, jaw, and cephalic region, that were consistent with vitamin C deficiency during the larval stage. In light of their visible exterior skeletal abnormalities, we suspected that the affected fish would also have abnormal otoliths. Otoliths are dense calcareous structures that function in fish hearing. We hypothesized that abnormal fish would have irregular otoliths that would alter behavior and cortisol levels as compared with those of phenotypically normal fish. The normal and abnormal fish had statistically significant differences in behavior, cortisol levels, and otolith volume and density. MicroCT assessment of abnormal fish revealed operculum abnormalities, malocclusions, and several types of otolith malformations. Therefore, the affected fish had not only an abnormal skeletal appearance but also significantly abnormal behavior and cortisol responses.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Comparative Medicine Program, Texas A and M University, College Station, Texas, USA. [email protected] 2: Department of Pathobiology, Texas A and M University, College Station, Texas, USA 3: Departments of 2Biology and 3Pathobiology, Texas A and M University, College Station, Texas, USA

Publication date: 2012-08-01

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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