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Ecol Lett. 2015 Jun;18(6):535-44. doi: 10.1111/ele.12433. Epub 2015 Apr 8.

Sport science for salmon and other species: ecological consequences of metabolic power constraints.

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Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, 93106-9610, USA.
Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service, Santa Cruz, CA, USA.
Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA, USA.


For metabolically demanding behaviours, power supply (ATP resynthesis per unit time) is an important constraint on performance. Yet ecology as a discipline lacks a framework to account for these power constraints. We developed such a framework (borrowing concepts from sports science) and applied it to the upriver migration of anadromous fish. Our models demonstrate how metabolic power constraints alters optimal migratory behaviour; in response to strong counter flows, fish minimise cost of transport by alternating between rapid, anaerobically fuelled swimming and holding to restore spent fuels. Models ignoring power constraints underestimated the effect of elevated water temperature on migration speed and costs (by up to 60%). These differences were primarily due to a temperature-mediated reduction in aerobic scope that impairs the ability of fish to rapidly migrate through warm waters. Our framework provides a mechanistic link between temperature-induced reductions in aerobic scope and their ecological consequences for individuals, populations and communities.


Aerobic; aerobic scope; anaerobic; critical power; endurance; metabolic power constraints; migration; recovery; river; salmon

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