The Journal of experimental biology

Anaemia adjusts the aerobic physiology of snapper (Pagrus auratus) and modulates hypoxia avoidance behaviour during oxygen choice presentations.

PMID 21832136


The effect of altered oxygen transport potential on behavioural responses to environmental hypoxia was tested experimentally in snapper, Pagrus auratus, treated with a haemolytic agent (phenylhydrazine) or a sham protocol. Standard metabolic rate was not different between anaemic and normocythaemic snapper (Hct=6.7 and 25.7 g dl(-1), respectively), whereas maximum metabolic rate, and hence aerobic scope (AS), was consistently reduced in anaemic groups at all levels of water P(O(2)) investigated (P<0.01). This reduction of AS conferred a higher critical oxygen limit (P(crit)) to anaemic fish (8.6±0.6 kPa) compared with normocythaemic fish (5.3±0.4 kPa), thus demonstrating reduced hypoxic tolerance in anaemic groups. In behavioural choice experiments, the critical avoidance P(O(2)) in anaemic fish was 6.6±2.5 kPa compared with 2.9±0.5 kPa for controls (P<0.01). Behavioural avoidance was not associated with modulation of swimming speed. Despite differences in physiological and behavioural parameters, both groups avoided low P(O(2)) just below their P(crit), indicating that avoidance was triggered consistently when AS limits were reached and anaerobic metabolism was unavoidable. This was confirmed by high levels of plasma lactate in both treatments at the point of avoidance. This is the first experimental demonstration of avoidance behaviour being modulated by internal physiological state. From an ecological perspective, fish with disturbed oxygen delivery potential arising from anaemia, pollution or stress are likely to avoid environmental hypoxia at a higher P(O(2)) than normal fish.

Related Materials

Product #



Molecular Formula

Add to Cart

Phenylhydrazine, 97%
Phenylhydrazine hydrochloride, ≥99%
C6H8N2 · HCl