Habitat restoration weakens negative environmental effects on telomere dynamics

McLennan, D., Auer, S. K., McKelvey, S., McKelvey, L., Anderson, G., Boner, W. , Duprez, J. S. and Metcalfe, N. B. (2021) Habitat restoration weakens negative environmental effects on telomere dynamics. Molecular Ecology, (doi: 10.1111/mec.15980) (PMID:33973299) (Early Online Publication)

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Habitat quality can have far-reaching effects on organismal fitness, an issue of concern given the current scale of habitat degradation. Many temperate upland streams have reduced nutrient levels due to human activity. Nutrient restoration confers benefits in terms of invertebrate food availability and subsequent fish growth rates. Here we test whether these mitigation measures also affect the rate of cellular ageing of the fish, measured in terms of the telomeres that cap the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes. We equally distributed Atlantic salmon eggs from the same 30 focal families into 10 human-impacted oligotrophic streams in northern Scotland. Nutrient levels in five of the streams were restored by simulating the deposition of a small number of adult Atlantic salmon Salmo salar carcasses at the end of the spawning period, while five reference streams were left as controls. Telomere lengths and expression of the telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) gene that may act to lengthen telomeres were then measured in the young fish when 15 months old. While TERT expression was unrelated to any of the measured variables, telomere lengths were shorter in salmon living at higher densities and in areas with a lower availability of the preferred substrate (cobbles and boulders). However, the adverse effects of these habitat features were much reduced in the streams receiving nutrients. These results suggest that adverse environmental pressures are weakened when nutrients are restored, presumably because the resulting increase in food supply reduces levels of both competition and stress.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This research was supported by European Research Council Advanced Grants (numbers 322784 and 834653) to NBM.
Status:Early Online Publication
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Metcalfe, Professor Neil and Boner, Dr Winnie and Anderson, Mr Graeme and Auer, Dr Sonya and McLennan, Dr Darryl
Authors: McLennan, D., Auer, S. K., McKelvey, S., McKelvey, L., Anderson, G., Boner, W., Duprez, J. S., and Metcalfe, N. B.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Molecular Ecology
ISSN (Online):1365-294X
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in Molecular Ecology 2021
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
305090MITOWILDNeil MetcalfeEuropean Commission (EC)834653Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
190611METAPHEN: The Ecology of Metabolic Phenotypes: From Cells to PopulationsNeil MetcalfeEuropean Research Council (ERC)Metcalfe, Prof NeilInstitute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine