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PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e40791. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040791. Epub 2012 Jul 19.

Habitat-specific locomotor variation among Chinese hook snout carp (Opsariichthys bidens) along a river.

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Laboratory of Evolutionary Physiology and Behavior, Chongqing Key Laboratory of Animal Biology, Chongqing Normal University, Chongqing, China.


The Wujiang River is a tributary of the upper Yangtze River that shows great variations in its flow regime and habitat condition. Dams have been built along the Wujiang River and have altered the habitats profoundly enough that they may give rise to reproductive isolation. To test whether the swimming performance and morphology of the Chinese hook snout carp (Opsariichthys bidens), varied among habitats and whether the possible differences had a genetic basis, we measured the steady and unsteady swimming performance, external body shape and genetic distance among fish collected from both the main and tributary streams of the upper, middle and lower reaches along the river. We also measured the routine energy expenditure (RMR), maximum metabolic rate (MMR), cost of transport (COT) and calculated the optimal swimming speed. The steady swimming capacity, RMR, MMR and optimal swimming speed were all higher and the COT was lower in the upper reach or tributary streams compared with the lower reach or main stream. However, unsteady swimming performance showed no variation among collecting sites. Flow regimes as suggested by river slope and water velocity were positively correlated with steady swimming performance but not with unsteady swimming performance. Predation stress were significantly related with body morphology and hence energy cost during swimming but not U(crit) value. The fish from only one population (Hao-Kou) showed relatively high genetic differentiation compared with the other populations. Fish from the upper reach or tributary streams exhibited improved steady swimming performance through improved respiratory capacity and lower energy expenditure during swimming at the cost of higher maintenance metabolism. There was no correlation between the steady and unsteady swimming performance at either the population or the individual levels. These results suggest that a trade-off between steady and unsteady swimming does not occur in O. bidens.

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