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A note on pre-spawning maternal cortisol exposure in farmed Atlantic salmon and its impact on the behaviour of offspring in response to a novel environment

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Kjetil Aune


Applied Animal Behaviour Science ; Volume 110. p. 404–409. 2008

Espmark, Åsa Maria Olofsdotter; Eriksen, Marit Skog; Salte, Ragnar; Braastad, Bjarne Olai; Bakken, Morten

This study was designed to assess whether pre-spawning maternal cortisol administration and an additional stressor, here modelled by mild hyperthermia experienced during incubation, affected the behavioural responses of farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) offspring when exposed to a novel environment. Mature females were injected prior to stripping with 0, 50 or 100 mg/kg cortisol. After fertilization the eggs were kept at incubation temperatures of either 8 or 10 degrees C. Four months after hatching, the fish were introduced to a novel environment, i.e. an aquarium (381). In each trial two individuals originating from different exposure groups were video recorded and their activity (number of turns, time spent not swimming, time spent at the bottom) and feeding behaviour were measured. Maternal cortisol increased time spent non-swimming and also time spent at the bottom, while cortisol and temperature together additionally affected number of turns. To the best of our knowledge this study is the first in fish to demonstrate a possible link between the maternal endocrinological state at spawning and the offspring’s behavioural reactivity to novel situations. (C) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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