, Volume 64, Issue 1-3, pp 185-193

Seasonal Changes in Osmotic and Ionic Regulation in Arctic Charr, Salvelinus Alpinus, From a High- and a Sub-arctic Anadromous Population

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Abstract

Seasonal changes in hypoosmoregulatory capacity were studied in hatchery-reared offspring of a high-Arctic strain of anadromous Arctic charr, Salvelinus alpinus, from Svalbard (79°N) and a sub-Arctic strain from Hammerfest, north Norway (70°N). The fish were held in freshwater under simulated, natural light conditions (Tromsø, 69°N) and natural water temperatures, and hypoosmoregulatory capacity was determined by seawater challenge tests between February and November. An improved hypoosmoregulatory capacity was seen in both strains at the time when their wild conspecifics migrate to the sea. The time when maximum hypoosmoregulatory capacity was achieved differed significantly between the two strains, suggesting that there may be genetic differences between the two populations in how environmental cues (e.g. temperature, photoperiod) entrain the development of seawater tolerance. The development and loss of hypoosmoregulatory capacity seemed to be more rapid and abrupt in the Svalbard charr than in the Hammerfest charr. This is hypothesised to be an adaptation to the stochastic and unpredictable variations in the time when the fish are allowed to migrate in the high-Arctic, and the need to prevent migration in years when the ice break occurs very late.