Indices of stress in three-spined sticklebacks Gasterosteus aculeatus in relation to extreme weather events and exposure to wastewater effluent

Pottinger, T.G.; Cook, A.; Juergens, M.D.; Sebire, M.; Henrys, P.A.; Katsiadaki, I.; Balaam, J.L.; Smith, A.J.; Matthiessen, P.. 2011 Indices of stress in three-spined sticklebacks Gasterosteus aculeatus in relation to extreme weather events and exposure to wastewater effluent. Journal of Fish Biology, 79 (1). 256-279.

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Whole-body concentrations of cortisol and glucose were measured in three-spined sticklebacks Gasterosteus aculeatus from two rivers (R. Ray and R. Ock) in southern England during a 30 month period in order to assess effects on the stress axis of (i) remediation of a waste water treatment works (WWTW) effluent (R. Ray) and (ii) episodic changes in flow rate arising from periods of high rainfall (R. Ray and R. Ock). The post-capture concentrations of cortisol and glucose in fish from both rivers did not exhibit a seasonal periodicity but did show significant between-sample, between-site and between-river variation, superimposed upon a consistent downward trend for each analyte during the monitoring period. The downward trend in corticosteroid and glucose concentrations after exposure to the stress associated with capture was significantly and inversely linked with a progressive increase in condition of the fish during this period. Site-dependent trends possibly attributable to exposure to the WWTW effluent were detected for both analytes in fish from the R. Ray. For fish in the R. Ray a significant proportion of variation in both corticosteroid and glucose concentrations, over and above the downward trend with time, was accounted for by temporal proximity of the sample to exceptional flow events arising from episodes of high rainfall, and high turbidity. This relationship was not statistically significant for fish from the R. Ock. These data suggest that the responsiveness of the stress axis in free-living G. aculeatus may be altered by exposure to WWTW effluent and by exposure to physical changes in the aquatic environment such as those arising from extreme weather events. The magnitude of these effects may be increased by exposure to both stressors concurrently.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water > WA Topic 2 - Ecohydrological Processes > WA - 2.3 - Assess the responses of river, lake and wetland ecosystems to ecohydrological drivers
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Acreman
UKCEH Fellows
ISSN: 0022-1112
Additional Keywords: condition, cortisol, flow rate, glucose, stress, turbidity
NORA Subject Terms: Zoology
Biology and Microbiology
Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 30 Aug 2011 10:55 +0 (UTC)

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