Dissolved oxygen (DO) can be a strong predictor of intraspecific variation in morphology and physiology in fishes. In the African cichlid Pseudocrenilabrus multicolor victoriae Seegers, 1990,
fish reared under low DO develop larger gills, deeper bodies, and larger, wider heads than full siblings reared under high DO, which could influence swim performance. In this study, we compared critical swim speed (Ucrit) and fast-start swimming in F1-generation
fish from two field populations (one high and one low DO) of P. m. victoriae reared under high or low DO. There was no difference in Ucrit between populations or rearing treatments. However, females exhibited a lower Ucrit than males. In
fast-start trials, low-DO-reared fish reacted faster (lower response latency) and used double bends more often than high-DO-reared fish, but there was no difference in maximum velocity or acceleration. Low-DO-reared fish might compensate for morphological differences by using double bends
to achieve similar performance as high-DO siblings. These results suggest that divergent morphotypes of P. m. victoriae are capable of achieving the same level of performance under their home DO condition and highlights the importance of developmental plasticity in facilitating
adaptive response to alternative environments.
Department of Biology, McGill University, 1205 Docteur Penfield Avenue, Montreal, QC H3A 1B1, Canada.
Publication date: May 15, 2012
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