In consequence of the growing concern with warming of the Arctic Ocean, this study quantified the thermal acclimation responses of Boreogadus saida, a key Arctic food web fish. Physiological rates for cardio-respiratory functions as well as critical maximum temperature (Tcmax) for loss of equilibrium (LOE) were measured. The transition temperatures for these functions (LOE, the rate of oxygen uptake and maximum heart rate) during acute warming were used to gauge phenotypic plasticity after thermal acclimation from 0.5°C up to 6.5°C for 1 month (respiratory and Tcmax measurements) and 6 months (cardiac measurements). Tcmax increased significantly by 2.3°C from 14.9°C to 17.1°C with thermal acclimation, while the optimum temperature for absolute aerobic scope increased by 4.5°C over the same range of thermal acclimation. Warm acclimation reset the maximum heart rate to a statistically lower rate, but the first Arrhenius breakpoint temperature during acute warming was unchanged. The hierarchy of transition temperatures were quantified at three acclimation temperatures and were fitted inside a Fry temperature tolerance polygon to better define ecologically relevant thermal limits to performance of B. saida. We conclude that B. saida can acclimate to 6.5°C water temperatures in the laboratory. However, at this acclimation temperature 50% of the fish were unable to recover from maximum swimming at the 8.5°C test temperature and their cardio-respiratory performance started to decline at water temperatures greater than 5.4°C. Such costs in performance may limit the ecological significance of B. saida acclimation potential.
- Received March 7, 2016.
- Accepted July 25, 2016.
- © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd