Seasonal carryover effects following the administration of cortisol to a wild teleost fish

Constance M. O'Connor, Kathleen M. Gilmour, Robert Arlinghaus, C. T. Hasler, David P. Philipp, Steven J. Cooke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Stress can have sublethal effects that are manifested either immediately or at spatial or temporal scales that are removed from the stress event (i.e., carryover effects). We tested whether a short-term elevation of plasma cortisol would result in seasonal carryover effects in wild largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides. Using exogenous hormone implants, we raised circulating cortisol concentrations in a group of wild fish for approximately 5 d in October 2007. We then compared activity (velocity, distance traveled) of cortisol-treated animals with that of shamtreated and control animals throughout the winter using an automated acoustic telemetry array. Immediately following treatment, the cortisol-treated fish showed increased activity relative to controls. However, this differencedisappeared following the cessation of the elevation of circulating cortisol. During the winter of 2007 to 2008, the lake experienced a nearlycomplete winterkill event, providinginsight into how a transient stress response can influence the response of wild animals to subsequent challenges. Most fish carrying acoustic transmitters succumbed during this winterkill event, but cortisoltreated fish died earlier than fish in other groups and showed a decrease in activity relative to controls and sham-treated fish before mortality. This study provides preliminary evidence of seasonal carryover effects in wild fish and yields insight into the ecological consequences of stress across broad temporal scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)950-957
Number of pages8
JournalPhysiological and Biochemical Zoology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2010


  • INHS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry


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