Our knowledge of the swimming capabilities and metabolic rates of adult salmon, and particularly the influence of temperature on them, is extremely limited, and yet this information is critical to understanding the remarkable upstream migrations that these fish can make. To remedy this situation, we examined the effects of temperature on swimming performance and metabolic rates of 107 adult fish taken from three stocks of sockeye salmon Oncorhynchus nerka and one stock of coho salmon O. kisutch at various field and laboratory locations, using large, portable, swim tunnels. The salmon stocks were selected because of differences in their ambient water temperature (ranging from 5°C to 20°C) and the total distance of their in-river migrations (ranging from ~100 km for coastal stocks to ~1100 km for interior stocks). As anticipated, differences in routine metabolic rate observed among salmon stocks were largely explained by an exponential dependence on ambient water temperature. However, the relationship between water temperature and maximum oxygen consumption (O2max), i.e. the O2 measured at the critical swimming speed (Ucrit), revealed temperature optima for O2max that were stock-specific. These temperature optima were very similar to the average ambient water temperatures for the natal stream of a given stock. Furthermore, at a comparable water temperature, the salmon stocks that experienced a long and energetically costly in-river migration were characterized by a higher O2max, a higher scope for activity, a higher Ucrit and, in some cases, a higher cost of transport, relative to the coastal salmon stocks that experience a short in-river migration. We conclude that high-caliber respirometry can be performed in a field setting and that stock-specific differences in swimming performance of adult salmon may be important for understanding upstream migration energetics and abilities.
Key words: salmon, Oncorhynchus nerka, Oncorhynchus kisutch, respirometry, energetics, temperature, oxygen consumption, critical swimming speed, fish stock, spawning run
Source: Lee, C. G., Farrell, A. P., Lotto, A., MacNutt, M. J., Hinch, S. G., & Healey, M. C. (2003). The effect of temperature on swimming performance and oxygen consumption in adult sockeye (Oncorhynchus nerka) and coho (O. kisutch) salmon stocks. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 206(Pt 18), 3239–3251. https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.00547