A relationship between metabolic rate and risk-taking behaviour is revealed during hypoxia in juvenile European sea bass

Killen, S.S. , Marras, S., Ryan, M.R., Domenici, P. and McKenzie, D.J. (2012) A relationship between metabolic rate and risk-taking behaviour is revealed during hypoxia in juvenile European sea bass. Functional Ecology, 26(1), pp. 134-143. (doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2435.2011.01920.x)

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<p>1. Inter-individual variation in metabolic rate exists in a wide range of taxa. While this variation appears to be linked to numerous aspects of animal behaviour and personality, the ecological relevance of these relationships is not understood. The behavioural response of individual fish to acute aquatic hypoxia, for example, could be related to metabolic rate via influences on oxygen demand or the willingness to take risks. Individuals with higher metabolic rates could show greater hypoxia-associated increases in activity that could allow them to locate areas with increased oxygen availability but that also make them susceptible to predation. Any relationship between metabolic rate and risk-taking behaviour among individual fish could therefore be modulated by environmental oxygen levels, perhaps becoming stronger as oxygen availability declines.</p> <p>2. We measured spontaneous swimming activity as an index of risk-taking by juvenile European sea bass in normoxia, moderate hypoxia (40% air saturation) and severe hypoxia (20% air saturation) after being startled by a predator model. All fish were also separately measured for routine metabolic rate by measuring oxygen uptake.</p> <p>3. In hypoxia, fish re-emerged from cover sooner after a simulated attack and were generally more active than when the same fish were startled in normoxia. In addition, individual activity and risk-taking in severe hypoxia were positively correlated with metabolic rate. Aquatic surface respiration was a major contributor towards increased activity in hypoxia and was positively related to metabolic rate during severe hypoxia. There were no relationships between risk-taking and metabolic rate in moderate hypoxia or normoxia.</p> <p>4. Relative measures of risk-taking among individual fish were not consistent among oxygen levels, further suggesting that individuals differ in sensitivity to hypoxia and the degree to which this environmental stressor affects risk-taking behaviour.</p> <p>5. These results suggest that fish with relatively high metabolic rates become more active during acute hypoxia, possibly leading to increased susceptibility to predation in response to differences in metabolic demand. In addition, the relationship between metabolic rate and risk-taking may only be observable during exposure to a physiological stressor or such a stressor may strengthen any relationships observable under more benign conditions.</p>

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Killen, Professor Shaun and Ryan, Miss Mary
Authors: Killen, S.S., Marras, S., Ryan, M.R., Domenici, P., and McKenzie, D.J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Functional Ecology
ISSN (Online):1365-2435
Published Online:10 October 2011

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