Differences in Thermal Tolerance Among Sockeye Salmon Populations

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Science  01 Apr 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6025, pp. 109-112
DOI: 10.1126/science.1199158

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Climate change–induced increases in summer water temperature have been associated with elevated mortality of adult sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) during river migration. We show that cardiorespiratory physiology varies at the population level among Fraser River sockeye salmon and relates to historical environmental conditions encountered while migrating. Fish from populations with more challenging migratory environments have greater aerobic scope, larger hearts, and better coronary supply. Furthermore, thermal optima for aerobic, cardiac, and heart rate scopes are consistent with the historic river temperature ranges for each population. This study suggests that physiological adaptation occurs at a very local scale, with population-specific thermal limits being set by physiological limitations in aerobic performance, possibly due to cardiac collapse at high temperatures.

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