Shuttle-box systems for studying preferred environmental ranges by aquatic animals

Christensen, E. A.F., Andersen, L. E.J., Bergsson, H., Steffensen, J. F. and Killen, S. S. (2021) Shuttle-box systems for studying preferred environmental ranges by aquatic animals. Conservation Physiology, 9(1), coab028. (doi: 10.1093/conphys/coab028) (PMID:34026213) (PMCID:PMC8129825)

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Animals’ selection of environments within a preferred range is key to understanding their habitat selection, tolerance to stressors and responses to environmental change. For aquatic animals, preferred environmental ranges can be studied in so-called shuttle-boxes, where an animal can choose its ambient environment by shuttling between separate choice chambers with differences in an environmental variable. Over time, researchers have refined the shuttle-box technology and applied them in many different research contexts, and we here review the use of shuttle-boxes as a research tool with aquatic animals over the past 50 years. Most studies on the methodology have been published in the latest decade, probably due to an increasing research interest in the effects of environmental change, which underlines the current popularity of the system. The shuttle-box has been applied to a wide range of research topics with regards to preferred ranges of temperature, CO2, salinity and O2 in a vast diversity of species, showing broad applicability for the system. We have synthesized the current state-of-the-art of the methodology and provided best practice guidelines with regards to setup, data analyses, experimental design and study reporting. We have also identified a series of knowledge gaps, which can and should be addressed in future studies. We conclude with highlighting directions for research using shuttle-boxes within evolutionary biology and behavioural and physiological ecology.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:E.A.F.C. was supported by the Carlsberg Foundation (grant number CF19-0400).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Killen, Professor Shaun and Christensen, Dr Emil
Authors: Christensen, E. A.F., Andersen, L. E.J., Bergsson, H., Steffensen, J. F., and Killen, S. S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Conservation Physiology
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN (Online):2051-1434
Published Online:17 May 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © The Author(s) 2021
First Published:First published in Conservation Physiology 9(1):coab028
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons Licence

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
308473Effects of Climate-Change Associated Stressors on Fish Social BehavioursShaun KillenNatural Environment Research Council (NERC)NE/T008334/1Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine