Diel locomotor activity and shelter use in the Patagonian catfish Hatcheria macraei under experimental conditions
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Diel locomotor activity and shelter use was experimentally evaluated in Hatcheria macraei under three different light regimens: natural and inverted photoperiods, and during constant darkness. The results demonstrate clear nocturnal activity and highlight the negative phototactic behaviour of H. macraei, proving that light is the external factor that triggers the seeking of shelter and the subsequent hiding action. Locomotor activity was maximal in darkness, intermediate at dawn and dusk, and minimal (maximum shelter use) in full light. During free-running experiments (i.e. constant darkness) H. macraei continued to exhibit the same diel pattern of resting (or hiding) and swimming as under natural light conditions. Nocturnal activity and negative phototactic behaviour appear to be important mechanisms which have enabled H. macraei to withstand the effects of salmonid introduction in lotic environments where other native fishes have suffered negative effects.
KeywordsCircadian rhythm Artificial photoperiod Hiding behaviour Refuge Swimming activity
We thank Dirección de Pesca Continental of Río Negro Province for permission to collect native fishes. This study was partially funded by Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica, Argentina (ANPCyT, PICT 2010 No. 0262 and PICT 2013 No. 1387) and Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Argentina (CONICET, PIP No. 11220120100063CO). All handling, care and experimental procedures used in this research complied with the animal welfare laws stated by the Government of Argentina (Law n° 14346).
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