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Late migration and seawater entry is physiologically disadvantageous for American shad juveniles

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Juvenile American shad Alosa sapidissima were subjected to isothermal transfers into sea water (salinity 24)‘early’(1 September; 24° C) and ‘late’(10 November; 10° C) in the autumn migratory season. Early acclimation resulted in a modest osmotic perturbation that recovered rapidly. Haematocrit declined by 14% at 24 h, recovering within 48 h. Plasma osmolality increased by 6% at 4 h, recovering within 8 h. Early acclimation caused a two‐fold increase in gill Na+, K+‐ATPase activity by 24 h and a four‐fold increase by 4 days. The number of chloride cells on the primary gill filament increased two‐fold by 4 days. Chloride cells on the secondary lamellae rapidly decreased from 22 cells mm−1 to <2 cells mm−1 within 4 days. Late acclimation resulted in a severe and protracted osmotic perturbation. Haematocrit levels declined by 23% at 4 days, recovering by 14 days. Plasma osmolality increased by 36% by 48 h, recovering by 4 days. Initial gill Na+, K+‐ATPase activity was two‐fold greater than in ‘early’ fish and did not change during acclimation. Initial numbers of chloride cells on the primary filament were two‐fold greater than ‘early’ fish and did not increase during acclimation. Initial number of chloride cells on the secondary lamellae was five‐fold greater than ‘early’ fish (116 v. 22 cells mm−1) and declined to negligible numbers over 14 days. Differences between initial measures for ‘early’ and ‘late’ fish reflect previously described physiological changes associated with migration. These data indicate that late migrants face a greater physiological challenge during seawater acclimation than early migrants. Physiological performance apparently limits the observed duration of autumnal migration.

Keywords: Alosa sapidissima; American shad; K+‐ATPase; chloride cells; gill Na+; migration; osmoregulation

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: S.O. Conte Anadromous Fish Research Center, U.S. Geological Survey – Biological Resources Division, Turners Falls, MA 01376, U.S.A and 2: Biology Department, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, U.S.A.

Publication date: December 1, 2003

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