Current Zoology(formerly Acta Zoologica Sinica),    2012, 58(3): 401 - 412
Title: Fish embryo and juvenile size under hypoxia in the mouth- brooding African cichlid Pseudocrenilabrus multicolor
 D e p a r t m e n t   o f   B i o l o g y ,   M c G i l l   U n i v e r s i t y ,   C a n a d a 
Abstract: We used a field survey and a laboratory rearing experiment to (a) examine response (size and survival) to life-long hypoxia in offspring of the African maternal mouth-brooding cichlid Pseudocrenilabrus multicolor victoriae (Seegers) and (b) explore the degree to which developmental response can be environmentally-induced. Embryo size metrics were quantified in 9 field populations across a range of dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations. In the laboratory, first generation (F1) broods of low-DO origin were reared under high or low DO. Brooding period was quantified for the mothers; and egg size, egg metabolic rate and juvenile size-at-release were quantified in their (F2) offspring. The F2 offspring were split and grown for 3 months post-release under high or low DO, and juvenile size and survival were quantified. In the field survey, across stages, embryos from low-DO field populations were shorter and weighed less than embryos from high-DO populations. In the laboratory experiment, F2 eggs and juveniles-at-release from mother’s mouth did not differ in mass, length, survival regardless of development DO environment. However, juveniles diverged in size after leaving mother’s mouth, exhibiting smaller size when grown under low DO. Size differences in embryo size across field populations and divergence in embryo size after release from the mother’s mouth support predictions for smaller body size under hypoxia. There was no evidence for negative effects on survival of juveniles after 3 months. Brooding period was 16% shorter in females reared under low DO suggesting that hypoxia may accelerate embryo development. This work provides insights into how bearer fishes respond to hypoxic stress relative to fishes with no post-spawning parental care; a shorter brooding interval and smaller body size may provide an optimal solution to parent and embryo survival under hypoxia in brooding fishes [Current Zoology 58 (3): 401-412, 2012].
Keywords: African cichlid, Lake Victoria, Life-history, Parental care, Dissolved oxygen

*Correspondence should be addressed to E.E. REARDON (

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