Marine Biology

, Volume 120, Issue 4, pp 615–625 | Cite as

Behavioral response of fish larvae to low dissolved oxygen concentrations in a stratified water column

  • D. L. Breitburg


Density stratification and respiration lead to vertical gradients in dissolved oxygen in many aquatic habitats. The behavioral responses of fish larvae to low dissolved oxygen in a stratified water column were examined during 1990–1991 with the goal of understanding how vertical gradients in dissolved oxygen may directly affect the distribution and survival of fish larvae in Chesapeake Bay, USA. In addition, the effects of low oxygen on 24-h survival rates were tested so that results of behavior experiments could be interpreted in the context of risk to the larve. Naked goby [Gobiosoma bosc (Lacépède)] and bay anchovy [Anchoa mitchilli (Valenciennes)] larvae strongly avoided dissolved oxygen concentrations <1 mg 1-1, which were lethal within 24 h at 25 to 27°C. In addition, naked goby larvae, whose behavior was tested at a wider range of dissolved oxygen concentrations, also showed a reduced preference for an oxygen concentration of 2 mg 1-1, which leads to reduced survival during long-term exposures and to reduced feeding rates. There were no major differences in behavior or survival between the two species, or between the two age classes of naked gobies tested. Results suggest that behavioral responses to oxygen gradients will play a large role in producing marked vertical changes in abundance of feeding-stage larvae in Chesapeake Bay; mortality from direct exposure to low oxygen will likely be much less important in producing vertical patterns of larval abundance.


Dissolve Oxygen Behavioral Response Dissolve Oxygen Concentration Fish Larva Vertical Gradient 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. L. Breitburg
    • 1
  1. 1.Benedict Estuarine Research CenterThe Academy of Natural SciencesSt. LeonardUSA

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