Proactive coping style in early emerging rainbow trout carries a metabolic cost with no apparent return

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The timing with which salmonid larvae emerge from their gravel nests is thought to be correlated with a particular suite of behavioural and physiological traits that correspond to the stress coping style of the individual. Among these traits, aggressiveness, dominance and resilience to stress, are potentially interesting to exploit in aquaculture production. In the present study a series of experiments were performed, with the purpose of characterising behavioural, metabolic and production related traits in rainbow trout juveniles from different emergence fractions. Newly hatched rainbow trout were sorted according to their emergence time from an artificial redd. The early, middle, and late fractions were retained and assessed for their physiological response to stress, growth performance, metabolism, fasting tolerance, and potential for compensatory growth. The early emerging fraction showed proactive behavioural traits; they were faster to reappear following startling, showed a reduced cortisol response following stress, and a reduced metabolic cost of recovery. Emergence time was not correlated with any differences in standard or maximum metabolic rates, but was however, correlated with higher routine metabolic rates, as demonstrated by significantly bigger weight losses during fasting in the early emerging group. Growth rates and feed conversion efficiencies were not significantly different when fish were co-habitated under a restrictive feeding regime, suggesting that early emerging fish are not able to monopolise food resources. The intermediate emerging group, which makes up the bulk of a population and is often ignored, appears to possess the best growth performance traits, possibly because they do not expend excessive energy on dominance behaviour such as the early emerging group, while they are also not overly timid or stress prone such as the late emerging group.
Original languageEnglish
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology - Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology
Pages (from-to)104-110
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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