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Physiol Biochem Zool. 2005 Jul-Aug;78(4):599-609. Epub 2005 May 24.

The cost of chronic stress: impacts of a nonhabituating stress response on metabolic variables and swimming performance in sturgeon.

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  • 1Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


Metabolic scope for activity (MSA) and critical swimming velocity (U(crit)) were measured in green sturgeon exposed to two stressors daily for 28 consecutive days. The results were compared with unstressed fish in an effort to measure the "cost" of chronic stress. Chronic stress was simulated by exposing fish to a randomized order of acute stressors: a 5-min chasing stressor, a 10-min water depth reduction stressor, or a 5-min confinement stressor. The acute cortisol response to each stressor was initially determined, and the maintenance of that response was verified in 7-d intervals during the chronic stress regime. Exposure to the chronic stress regime resulted in a 25% reduction of MSA caused by significantly increased maintenance metabolic rate (0.27+/-0.01 vs. 0.19+/-0.02 mg O(2) h(-1) g(-1), chronic and control fish, respectively) but did not affect the U(crit) of sturgeon. In addition, a 50% reduction in liver glycogen levels and a twofold increase of resting plasma glucose levels were measured in chronically stressed fish. We conclude that our chronic stress regime resulted in a significant maintenance cost to green sturgeon, possibly because of their inability to habituate to the stressors, but did not decrease their swimming performance.

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