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The effect of exercise and captivity on energy partitioning, reproductive maturation and fertilization success in adult sockeye salmon

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Releasing a population of adult Fraser River sockeye salmon Oncorhynchus nerka from an energetically more expensive non‐feeding natural migration (1089 km, natal groups) and allowing them to sexually mature in either a moderate flow (captive exercise group) or a no flow (captive non‐exercise group) environment resulted in significant differences in body energy densities (MJ kg−1) among groups (ranked: initial natural migrator > non‐exercise > exercise > natal arrivals). Similarly, per cent body lipids were significantly lower in exercise females compared with non‐exercise females, experimentally confirming the central role lipid catabolism has in powering swimming. Although restricting exercise did result in greater body energy reserves at spawning, this did not result in a reallocation of energy to reproduction, as fecundity, egg size and gonad composition were unchanged among the groups. Furthermore, non‐exercise females had delayed maturity, lower egg deposition rates, and were more likely to die prior to egg ovulation than exercise females and natal spawners. Eggs from captive exercise adult females were more likely to survive to the eyed stage than eggs from captive non‐exercise females, but both captive groups had significantly lower egg fertilization success than natal spawners suggesting that confinement stress played a role in some of results presented. There were no significant differences in plasma levels of glucose, lactate, cortisol and reproductive hormones among the groups, but correlations among acute and chronic indicators of stress were significant among individuals. These results indicate that exercise during the late stages of maturation, as might occur normally, may be required for optimizing reproductive maturation and maximizing reproductive success.
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Keywords: Oncorhynchus; maturation timing; reproduction; spawning migration; stress

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Science Branch, Pacific Region, Co-operative Resource Management Institute, School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C. V5A 1S6, Canada, 2: Department of Forest Sciences University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z2, Canada, 3: Institute for Resources and Environment, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z2, Canada and 4: Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University Burnaby, B.C. V5A 1S6, Canada

Publication date: 2004-04-01

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