Effect of short-term regulated temperature variations on the swimming economy of Atlantic salmon

C.M. Alexandre*, A.P. Palstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Migratory species travelling long distances between habitats to spawn or feed are well adapted to optimize their swimming economy. However, human activities, such as river regulation, represent potential threats to fish migration by changing environmental parameters that will have impact on their metabolism. The main objective of this study was to evaluate the changes in the swimming energetics of a salmonid species, Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.), caused by short-term temperature variations that usually result from the operation of hydroelectrical dams. Intermittent flow respirometry in swim tunnels allows to obtain high resolution data on oxygen consumption of swimming fish which can reflect aerobic and anaerobic metabolism. This method was used to compare the metabolic rates of oxygen consumption before, during and after sudden thermal change. Control (no temperature variation) and experimental (temperature variation of approximately 4°C in 1 h) swimming trials were conducted to achieve the following objectives: (i) quantify the variations in oxygen consumption associated with abrupt temperature decrease, and (ii) assess if the tested fish return quickly to initial oxygen consumption rates. Main results revealed that Atlantic salmon smolts show a strong response to sudden temperature variation, significantly reducing the oxygen consumption rate up to a seven-fold change. Fish quickly returned to initial swimming costs shortly after reestablishment of temperature values. Results from this study can be used to evaluate the species-specific effects of the applied operation modes by hydroelectrical dams and to increase the success of conservation and management actions directed to fish species inhabiting regulated rivers.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbercox025
Number of pages9
JournalConservation Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Hydropeaking
  • Intermittent respirometry
  • Oxygen consumption
  • Salmo salar
  • Streamflow regulation


Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of short-term regulated temperature variations on the swimming economy of Atlantic salmon'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this