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Respiratory response to temperature and hypoxia in the zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha.

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Department of Biology, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40292, USA.


The effects of temperature acclimation, acute temperature variation and progressive hypoxia on oxygen consumption rates (VO2) were determined for the zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha. In the first experiment, after acclimation to 5, 15 or 25 degrees C for at least 2 weeks, VO2 was determined at 5 degrees C increments from 5 to 45 degrees C. VO2 increased in all three acclimation groups from 5 to 30 degrees C, corresponding to the normal ambient temperature range for this species. Mussels displayed imperfect temperature compensation at temperatures above 15 degrees C, but exhibited little acclimatory ability below 15 degrees C. In the hypoxia experiment, VO2 was determined over the course of progressive hypoxia, from full saturation (oxygen tension [PO2]=160 Torr [21.3 kPa]) to a PO2 at which oxygen uptake ceased (<10 Torr [1.3 kPa]). Mussels were acclimated to either 5, 15 or 25 degrees C for at least 2 weeks and their respiratory response to progressive hypoxia was measured at three test temperatures (5, 15 and 25 degrees C). The degree of oxygen regulation increased with increasing test temperature, particularly from 5 to 15 degrees C, but decreased with increasing acclimation temperature. The decreased metabolic rate observed for warm-acclimated animals, particularly in the upper portion of the temperature range of the zebra mussel, may allow for conservation of organic energy stores during warm summer months. Compared to other freshwater bivalves, D. polymorpha is a relatively poor oxygen regulator, corresponding with its preference for well-oxygenated aquatic habitats. In addition, a new quantitative method for determining the degree of oxygen regulation is presented.

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