, Volume 58, Issue 3, pp 277-288

Quantification of the Role of Acclimation Temperature in Temperature Tolerance of Fishes

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Abstract

The relative effect of acclimation temperature on temperature tolerance was estimated from a geometrical partitioning of the temperature tolerance polygon of a fish species into three distinct zones relative to four key tolerance temperatures. This approach yields a middle tolerance zone which is independent of acclimation temperature bounded by upper and lower acclimation dependent zones. Acclimation dependent and independent temperature tolerance zones can be quantified by either areal or linear methods. Both methods were applied to quantify the effect of acclimation temperature in 21 species of temperate fishes for which temperature tolerance polygons were available. Temperature tolerance polygon areas of these 21 species ranged from 468 to 1380°C2 and are linearly related (r 2=0.93, p<0.001) to ultimate incipient upper lethal temperatures. Although areal and linear partitioning methods yielded similar acclimation independent and dependent tolerances, estimates from the areal method incorporates additional information concerning the shape of the temperature tolerance polygon, in particular lower and upper lethal temperature plateaus. Mean combined acclimation dependent and independent tolerance areas of these 21 species were not different, indicating that acclimation effectively doubles the temperature tolerance polygon. Mean lower acclimation dependent area was nearly three times greater than mean upper acclimation dependent area, suggesting that acclimation plays a larger role in tolerance of low rather than high temperatures. Among these 21 species, temperature tolerance of brook charr and sheepshead minnow were the least and most affected by acclimation temperature, respectively.