Measuring maximum and standard metabolic rates using intermittent-flow respirometry: a student laboratory investigation of aerobic metabolic scope and environmental hypoxia in aquatic breathers

P.J. Rosewarne, J.M. Wilson, Jon Christian Svendsen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Metabolic rate is one of themostwidely measured physiological traits in animals andmay be influenced by both endogenous (e.g. body mass) and exogenous factors (e.g. oxygen availability and temperature). Standard metabolic rate (SMR) and maximum metabolic rate (MMR) are two fundamental physiological
variables providing the floor and ceiling in aerobic energy metabolism. The total amount of energy available between these two variables constitutes the aerobic metabolic scope (AMS). A laboratory exercise aimed at an undergraduate level physiology class, which details the appropriate data acquisition methods and calculations to measure oxygen consumption rates in rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss, is presented here. Specifically, the teaching exercise employs intermittent flow respirometry to measure SMR and MMR, derives AMS from the measurements and demonstrates how AMS is affected by environmental oxygen. Students’ results typically reveal a decline in AMS in response to environmental hypoxia. The same techniques can be applied to investigate the influence of other key factors on metabolic rate (e.g. temperature and body mass). Discussion of the results develops students’
understanding of the mechanisms underlying these fundamental physiological traits and the influence of exogenous factors. More generally, the teaching exercise outlines essential laboratory concepts in addition to metabolic rate calculations, data acquisition and unit conversions that enhance competency
in quantitative analysis and reasoning. Finally, the described procedures are generally applicable to other fish species or aquatic breathers such as crustaceans (e.g. crayfish) and provide an alternative to using higher (or more derived) animals to investigate questions related to metabolic physiology
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Fish Biology
Volume88
Pages (from-to)265-283
ISSN0022-1112
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

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