Life in the fast lane: The free-ranging activity, heart rate and metabolism of an Antarctic fish tracked in temperate waters
The fish species Notothenia angustata inhabits temperate waters (10 °C), yet retains physiological traits that show it once existed at sub-zero temperatures. We determined the free-ranging activity, heart rate and metabolism of N. angustata and compared it with Notothenia coriiceps, an ecologically and morphologically congeneric cousin that still inhabits sub-zero waters. Firstly, the association between heart rate (fH) and oxygen consumption (MO2) was first determined in the laboratory. The fish were then released into their respective environments and fH recorded by a miniature archival electronic tag, from which the metabolic rate of the free-ranging fish was extrapolated. Free-ranging activity of wild fish was monitored throughout the study using implanted acoustic tags and a static hydrophone array. Results showed that the difference in standard metabolic rate (SMR) between N. angustata and N. coriiceps fitted the Arrhenius model for inter-species thermal sensitivity in fish (Q10 = 1.76). However, the inter-species disparity in total metabolic rate (TMR) was far greater. This was attributable to N. angustata swimming at higher speeds and covering a 5-fold greater area over 24 h compared with N. coriiceps. As a result, activity (and associated feeding) comprised a far larger portion of TMR in N. angustata (27.9%) than for N. coriiceps (5.7%). We conclude that the increased time spent swimming by N. angustata was presumably to forage for food to acquire sufficient energy to fuel its elevated SMR. This resulted in a much greater inter-species difference in TMR than may be predicted by the disparity in environmental temperature.
Authors: Campbell, Hamish A., Fraser, Keiron P.P., Peck, Lloyd S., Bishop, Charles M., Egginton, Stuart