To date, relatively few studies have tried to determine the practicality of using physiological information to help answer complex ecological questions and assist in conservation actions aimed at improving conditions for fish populations. In this study, the physiological stress responses of fish were evaluated in-stream between agricultural and forested stream reaches to determine whether differences in these responses can be used as tools to evaluate conservation actions. Creek chub Semotilus atromaculatus sampled directly from forested and agricultural stream segments did not show differences in a suite of physiological indicators. When given a thermal challenge in the laboratory, creek chub sampled from cooler forested stream reaches had higher cortisol levels and higher metabolic stress responses to thermal challenge than creek chub collected from warmer and more thermally variable agricultural reaches within the same stream. Despite fish from agricultural and forested stream segments having different primary and secondary stress responses, fish were able to maintain homeostasis of other physiological indicators to thermal challenge. These results demonstrate that local habitat conditions within discrete stream reaches may impact the stress responses of resident fish and provide insight into changes in community structure and the ability of tolerant fish species to persist in agricultural areas.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology