Browsing by Subject "FISH"

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  • Webster, Mike M.; Chouinard-Thuly, Laura; Herczeg, Gabor; Kitano, Jun; Riley, Riva; Rogers, Sean; Shapiro, Michael D.; Shikano, Takahito; Laland, Kevin N. (2019)
    Whether learning primarily reflects general processes or species-specific challenges is a long-standing matter of dispute. Here, we present a comprehensive analysis of public information use (PI-use) in sticklebacks (Gasterosteidae). PI-use is a form of social learning by which animals are able to assess the relative quality of resources, here prey patches, by observing the behaviour of others. PI-use was highly specific with only Pungitius and their closest relative Culaea inconstans showing evidence of PI-use. We saw no effects of ontogenetic experience upon PI-use in Pungitius pungitius. Experiments with live demonstrators and animated fish revealed that heightened activity and feeding strikes by foraging conspecifics are important cues in the transmission of PI. Finally, PI-use was the only form of learning in which P. pungitius and another stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus differed. PI-use in sticklebacks is species-specific and may represent an 'ecological specialization' for social foraging. Whether this reflects selection on perception, attentional or cognitive processes remains to be determined.
  • Schrandt, Meagan N.; Stone, Laura C.; Klimek, Brian; Makelin, Saara; Heck, Kenneth L.; Mattila, Johanna; Herlevi, Heidi (2016)
    In the Baltic Sea, species diversity is relatively low and the introduction of new predator species can have large direct and indirect impacts on native species - both prey and potential competitors. The alien round goby Neogobius melanostomus Pallas, 1811 was introduced to the Baltic Sea in the early 1990s and is now well-established. We examined the feeding habits of male round gobies from the Aland Islands, Finland, where round gobies were first recorded in 2011. Specifically, we tested whether small round gobies (
  • Czub, Michal; Nawala, Jakub; Popiel, Stanislaw; Brzezinski, Tomasz; Maszczyk, Piotr; Sanderson, Hans; Maser, Edmund; Gordon, Diana; Dziedzic, Daniel; Dawidziuk, Barbara; Pijanowska, Joanna; Fabisiak, Jacek; Szubska, Marta; Lang, Thomas; Vanninen, Paula; Niemikoski, Hanna; Missiaen, Tine; Lehtonen, Kari K.; Beldowski, Jacek; Kotwicki, Lech (2021)
    Sea dumping of chemical warfare (CW) took place worldwide during the 20th century. Submerged CW included metal bombs and casings that have been exposed for 50-100 years of corrosion and are now known to be leaking. Therefore, the arsenic-based chemical warfare agents (CWAs), pose a potential threat to the marine ecosystems. The aim of this research was to support a need for real-data measurements for accurate risk assessments and categorization of threats originating from submerged CWAs. This has been achieved by providing a broad insight into arsenic-based CWAs acute toxicity in aquatic ecosystems. Standard tests were performed to provide a solid foundation for acute aquatic toxicity threshold estimations of CWA: Lewisite, Adamsite, Clark I, phenyldichloroarsine (PDCA), CWA-related compounds: TPA, arsenic trichloride and four arsenic-based CWA degradation products. Despite their low solubility, during the 48 h exposure, all CWA caused highly negative effects on Daphnia magna. PDCA was very toxic with 48 h D. magna LC50 at 0.36 mu g x L-1- and Lewisite with EC50 at 3.2 mu g x L-1 . Concentrations at which no immobilization effects were observed were slightly above the analytical Limits of Detection (LOD) and Quantification (LOQ). More water-soluble CWA degradation products showed no effects at concentrations up to 100 mg x L-1.
  • Tverin, Malin; Granroth, Janne; Abrahamsson, Alexander; Tang, Patrik Anthony; Pihlström, Henry; Lundström, Karl; Käkelä, Reijo (2021)
    Increased numbers of great cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo) in the Baltic Sea may have local impacts on fisheries and salmonid hatcheries. We studied spatial and temporal variability in cormorant diet, and potential consumption of hatchery salmonids, by analysing knee subcutaneous adipose tissue fatty acids (FA) of specimens (N = 77) collected along Swedish and Finnish coasts in different seasons during 2013–2017. The FA profiles of the subspecies sinensis and carbo were similar, with large individual variation. The proportion of C18 polyunsaturated FAs (PUFAs) was the largest in the north, whereas the proportion of C20–22 monounsaturated FAs (MUFAs) increased towards the south, reflecting diminishing freshwater and increasing marine food web characteristics towards the south. As an exception, the C20–22 MUFA percentage was high in sinensis collected in June 2017 from the northern Baltic Sea. The source of C20–22 MUFAs was probably hatchery salmonids, raised on ocean fish hatchery feed and released 10 days before, near the cormorant capture site. The FA profiles of northern and southern cormorants differed from each other both in early and late summer samples, suggesting spatially different diets. The largest individual variation was found in 22:1n-11, characteristic of ocean zooplanktivorous fish, and likely originating from Atlantic wild or Baltic Sea hatchery-reared fish. This study shows that adipose tissue FA profiles can be used as proxies for seabird diet monitoring and indicators of predation on hatchery-reared fish. Obtaining quantitative estimates on the proportions of dietary fish species requires future feeding experiments, allowing calibration between the FA compositions and diet.
  • Keva, Ossi; Kiljunen, Mikko; Hämäläinen, Heikki; Jones, Roger I.; Kahilainen, Kimmo K.; Kankaala, Paula; Laine, Miikka B.; Schilder, Jos; Strandberg, Ursula; Vesterinen, Jussi; Taipale, Sami J. (2022)
    Environmental change, including joint effects of increasing dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and total phosphorus (TP) in boreal northern lakes may affect food web energy sources and the biochemical composition of organisms. These environmental stressors are enhanced by anthropogenic land-use and can decrease the quality of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in seston and zooplankton, and therefore, possibly cascading up to fish. In contrast, the content of mercury in fish increases with lake browning potentially amplified by intensive forestry practises. However, there is little evidence on how these environmental stressors simultaneously impact beneficial omega-3 fatty acid (n3-FA) and total mercury (THg) content of fish muscle for human consumption. A space-for-time substitution study was conducted to assess whether environmental stressors affect Eurasian perch (Perea fluviatilis) allochthony and muscle nutritional quality [PUPA, THg, and their derivative, the hazard quotient (HQ)]. Perch samples were collected from 31 Finnish lakes along pronounced lake size (0.03-107.5 km(2)), DOC (5.0-24.3 mg L-1), TP (5-118 mu g L-1) and land-use gradients (forest: 50.7-96.4%, agriculture: 0-32A%). These environmental gradients were combined using principal component analysis (PCA). Allochthony for individual perch was modelled using source and consumer delta H-2 values. Perch allochthony increased with decreasing lake pH and increasing forest coverage (PC1), but no correlation between lake DOC and perch allochthony was found. Perch muscle THg and omega-6 fatty acid (n6-FA) content increased with PC1 parallel with allochthony. Perch muscle DHA (22:6n3) content decreased, and ALA (18:3n3) increased towards shallower murkier lakes (PC2). Perch allochthony was positively correlated with muscle THg and n6-FA content, but did not correlate with n3-FA content. Hence, the quality of perch muscle for human consumption decreases (increase in HQ) with increasing forest coverage and decreasing pH, potentially mediated by increasing fish allochthony.
  • Pihlajamäki, Mia-Elina; Helle, Inari; Haapasaari, Päivi; Sarkki, Simo; Kuikka, Sakari; Lehikoinen, Annukka (2020)
    Fisheries management aims to ensure that the fishing activities are environmentally sustainable in the long term, while also achieving the economic, social and food security related management objectives. To facilitate this, both the ecological and human dimensions of sustainability need to be included in fisheries assessment. In addition, assessing long-term sustainability calls for taking into account plausible changes in the surrounding societal conditions that shape the characteristics of the fisheries governance system, as well as the ecological conditions. The paper uses a combination of qualitative exploratory scenario storylines (ESS) and Bayesian belief networks (BBN) to integrate the environmental, economic, social and food security dimensions in an interdisciplinary assessment of the future sustainability of Baltic herring (Clupea harengus membras, Clupeidae) and salmon (Salmo salar, Salmonidae) fisheries. First, four alternative ESS were created based on plausible changes in societal drivers. The ESS were then formulated into a BBN to (a) visualize the assumed causalities, and (b) examine quantitatively how changes in the societal drivers affect the social-ecological fisheries system and ultimately the fisheries management objectives. This type of probabilistic scenario synthesis can help in thinking qualitative scenarios in a quantitative way. Moreover, it can increase understanding on the causal links between societal driving forces and the complex fisheries system and on how the management objectives can be achieved, thereby providing valuable information for strategic decision-making under uncertainty.
  • Vuorinen, Pekka J.; Rokka, Mervi; Ritvanen, Tiina; Käkelä, Reijo; Nikonen, Soili; Pakarinen, Tapani; Keinänen, Marja (2020)
    Salmonines in the Baltic Sea and North American lakes suffer from thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency, which is connected to an abundant lipid-rich diet containing substantial amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). In the Baltic region, this is known as the M74 syndrome. It affects both adult salmon (Salmo salar) and especially their offspring, impairing recruitment. However, very little is known about the thiamine and lipid metabolism of salmon during feeding and spawning migrations in the Baltic Sea. In this study, salmon females were sampled along the spawning run from the southern Baltic Proper in four locations at sea and finally at spawning in a river at the Bothnian Bay in a year with insignificant M74 mortality. Changes in concentrations of thiamine and its components in muscle, ovaries, and the liver and other biochemical indices potentially relating to lipid and fatty acid metabolism were investigated. The results provide further evidence of the role of peroxidation of PUFAs in eliciting thiamine deficiency in salmon: During the entire spawning run, the muscle total lipid content decreased by 50%, palmitic acid (16:0) by 62%, and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3) by 45%. The concentration of total thiamine decreased significantly until the spawning in the liver and ovaries, 66 and 70% respectively. In the muscle, the proportion of thiamine pyrophosphate of total thiamine increased with the use of muscular lipid stores. There was no trend in the concentration of total carotenoids during the spawning run. The doubling of the concentration of hepatic malondialdehyde indicated peroxidation of PUFAs, and the mobilisation of body lipids suppressed the activity of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, as consumed dietary lipids would also have done.
  • Holma, Maija; Lindroos, Marko; Romakkaniemi, Atso; Oinonen, Soile (2019)
  • Peltomaa, Elina; Hällfors, Heidi; Taipale, Sami J. (2019)
    Recent studies have clearly shown the importance of omega-3 (-3) and omega-6 (-6) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) for human and animal health. The long-chain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20:5-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6-3) are especially recognized for their nutritional value, and ability to alleviate many diseases in humans. So far, fish oil has been the main human source of EPA and DHA, but alternative sources are needed to satisfy the growing need for them. Therefore, we compared a fatty acid profile and content of 10 diatoms and seven dinoflagellates originating from marine, brackish and freshwater habitats. These two phytoplankton groups were chosen since they are excellent producers of EPA and DHA in aquatic food webs. Multivariate analysis revealed that, whereas the phytoplankton group (46%) explained most of the differences in the fatty acid profiles, habitat (31%) together with phytoplankton group (24%) explained differences in the fatty acid contents. In both diatoms and dinoflagellates, the total fatty acid concentrations and the -3 and -6 PUFAs were markedly higher in freshwater than in brackish or marine strains. Our results show that, even though the fatty acid profiles are genetically ordered, the fatty acid contents may vary greatly by habitat and affect the -3 and -6 availability in food webs.
  • Kumar, Ashwini; Adhikari, Sadiksha; Kankainen, Matti; Heckman, Caroline A. (2021)
    Simple Summary The wide variety of next-generation sequencing technologies requires thorough evaluation and understanding of their advantages and shortcomings of these different approaches prior to their implementation in a precision medicine setting. Here, we compared the performance of two DNA sequencing methods, whole-exome and linked-read exome sequencing, to detect large structural variants (SVs) and short variants in eight multiple myeloma (MM) patient cases. For three patient cases, matched tumor-normal samples were sequenced with both methods to compare somatic SVs and short variants. The methods' clinical relevance was also evaluated, and their sensitivity and specificity to detect MM-specific cytogenetic alterations and other short variants were measured. Thus, this study systematically demonstrates and evaluates the performance of whole-exome and linked-read exome sequencing technologies for detecting genetic alterations to aid in selecting the optimal method for clinical application. Linked-read sequencing was developed to aid the detection of large structural variants (SVs) from short-read sequencing efforts. We performed a systematic evaluation to determine if linked-read exome sequencing provides more comprehensive and clinically relevant information than whole-exome sequencing (WES) when applied to the same set of multiple myeloma patient samples. We report that linked-read sequencing detected a higher number of SVs (n = 18,455) than WES (n = 4065). However, linked-read predictions were dominated by inversions (92.4%), leading to poor detection of other types of SVs. In contrast, WES detected 56.3% deletions, 32.6% insertions, 6.7% translocations, 3.3% duplications and 1.2% inversions. Surprisingly, the quantitative performance assessment suggested a higher performance for WES (AUC = 0.791) compared to linked-read sequencing (AUC = 0.766) for detecting clinically validated cytogenetic alterations. We also found that linked-read sequencing detected more short variants (n = 704) compared to WES (n = 109). WES detected somatic mutations in all MM-related genes while linked-read sequencing failed to detect certain mutations. The comparison of somatic mutations detected using linked-read, WES and RNA-seq revealed that WES and RNA-seq detected more mutations than linked-read sequencing. These data indicate that WES outperforms and is more efficient than linked-read sequencing for detecting clinically relevant SVs and MM-specific short variants.
  • Cehovska, Marketa; Kattainen, Saara; Väänänen, Veli-Matti; Putaala, Ahti; Nummi, Petri (2022)
    The number of wetlands in Europe decreased by more than 60% by the 1990s compared with the beginning of the twentieth century. Man-made wetlands may be an effective way to compensate for the loss and degradation of freshwater ecosystems. This loss impacts the populations of declining duck species, partly due to a lack of suitable breeding opportunities. In this study, we evaluated duck productivity and invertebrate abundance in 13 man-made Finnish wetlands that were created for waterbirds. Our findings revealed that man-made wetlands have higher duck production than average natural boreal lakes. High invertebrate levels were a key factor that positively correlated with duck pair density, brood density, duckling density of the common teal (Anas crecca), and duck density during the post-breeding period. Our results suggest that man-made wetlands are a useful tool for increasing duck productivity. For upholding this status in the long term, appropriate management should involve maintaining sufficient invertebrate levels.
  • Pihlaja, Tea L. M.; Niemissalo, Sanna M.; Sikanen, Tiina M. (2022)
    Antimicrobials are ubiquitous in the environment and can bioaccumulate in fish. In the present study, we determined the half-maximal inhibitory concentrations (IC50) of 7 environmentally abundant antimicrobials (ciprofloxacin, clarithromycin, clotrimazole, erythromycin, ketoconazole, miconazole, and sulfamethoxazole) on the cytochrome P450 (CYP) system in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) liver microsomes, using 7-ethoxyresorufin O-deethylation (EROD, CYP1A) and 7-benzyloxy-4-trifluoromethylcoumarin O-debenzylation (BFCOD, CYP3A) as model reactions. Apart from ciprofloxacin and sulfamethoxazole, all antimicrobials inhibited either EROD or BFCOD activities or both at concentrations
  • Liao, Wenfei; Venn, Stephen; Niemelä, Jari (2022)
    Context: Structural and functional connectivity, as subconcepts of landscape connectivity, are key factors in biodiversity conservation and management. Previous studies have focused on the consequences of connectivity for populations of terrestrial organisms, which may not be appropriate for aquatic organisms. Objectives: As landscape connectivity critically affects the potential value of ponds for biodiversity, here we used diving beetles (Dytiscidae), an indicator taxon of wetland biodiversity, to investigate how structural connectivity affects functional connectivity to aquatic invertebrates in an urban landscape. Methods: We assessed pairwise similarities of dytiscid community, i.e. the variation of species composition between clustered and isolated ponds in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, Finland. We investigated how dytiscid community similarity is affected by Euclidean distances between ponds, as an indicator of structural connectivity. Results: We found that clustered ponds shared more species than isolated ponds. Dytiscid species community similarity responded negatively to increasing Euclidean distance between ponds. Effectively dispersing species were widely distributed across the landscape, while poor dispersers were scarcely distributed in the same landscape. Conclusions: Structural connectivity determines which species are able to disperse successfully, with poor dispersers restricted to well-connected ponds. The different responses of effective dispersers and poor dispersers to the same structural connectivity indicate that functional connectivity determines species composition. We recommend providing well-connected aquatic habitats in urban landscapes and the implementation of measures to reduce isolation of wetland assemblages. Even clustered ponds need dispersal from other habitats to ensure their contribution to urban biodiversity.
  • Butler, Don H.; Koivisto, Satu Mirjami; Brumfeld, Vlad; Shahack-Gross, Ruth (2019)
    Salmonid resources currently foster socioeconomic prosperity in several nations, yet their importance to many ancient circumpolar societies is poorly understood due to insufficient fish bone preservation at archaeological sites. As a result, there are serious gaps in our knowledge concerning the antiquity of northern salmonid fisheries and their impacts on shaping biodiversity, hunter-gatherer adaptations, and human-ecological networks. The interdisciplinary study presented here demonstrates that calcium-magnesium phosphate minerals formed in burned salmonid bones can preserve at ancient northern sites, thus informing on the early utilization of these resources despite the absence of morphologically classifiable bones. The minerals whitlockite and beta magnesium tricalcium phosphate were identified in rare morphologically classifiable Atlantic salmonid bones from three Mid-Holocene sites in Finland. Large amounts of beta magnesium tricalcium phosphate were also experimentally formed by burning modern Atlantic salmonid and brown trout bones. Our results demonstrate the value of these minerals as proxies for ancient northern salmonid fishing. Specifically, the whitlockite mineral was discovered in hearth sediments from the 5,600 year old Yli-Ii Kierikinkangas site on the Iijoki River in northern Finland. Our fine sieving and mineralogical analyses of these sediments, along with zooarchaeological identification of recovered bone fragments, have confirmed for the first time that the people living at this village did incorporate salmonids into their economies, thus providing new evidence for early estuary/riverine fisheries in northern Finland.
  • Kozak, Natalia; Ahonen, Salla A.; Keva, Ossi; ostbye, Kjartan; Taipale, Sami J.; Hayden, Brian; Kahilainen, Kimmo K. (2021)
    Subarctic lakes are getting warmer and more productive due to the joint effects of climate change and intensive land-use practices (e.g. forest clear-cutting and peatland ditching), processes that potentially increase leaching of peat- and soil-stored mercury into lake ecosystems. We sampled biotic communities from primary producers (algae) to top consumers (piscivorous fish), in 19 subarctic lakes situated on a latitudinal (69.0-66.5 degrees N), climatic (+3.2 degrees C temperature and +30% precipitation from north to south) and catchment land-use (pristine to intensive forestry areas) gradient. We first tested how the joint effects of climate and productivity influence mercury biomagnification in food webs focusing on the trophic magnification slope (TMS) and mercury baseline (THg baseline) level, both derived from linear regression between total mercury (log10THg) and organism trophic level (TL). We examined a suite of environmental and biotic variables thought to explain THg baseline and TMS with stepwise generalized multiple regression models. Finally, we assessed how climate and lake productivity affect the THg content of top predators in subarctic lakes. We found biomagnification of mercury in all studied lakes, but with variable TMS and THg baseline values. In stepwise multiple regression models, TMS was best explained by negative relationships with food chain length, climate-productivity gradient, catchment properties, and elemental C:N ratio of the top predator (full model R2 = 0.90, p < 0.001). The model examining variation in THg baseline values included the same variables with positive relationships (R2 = 0.69, p = 0.014). Mass standardized THg content of a common top predator (1 kg northern pike, Esox lucius) increased towards warmer and more productive lakes. Results indicate that increasing eutrophication via forestry-related land-use activities increase the THg levels at the base of the food web and in top predators, suggesting that the sources of nutrients and mercury should be considered in future bioaccumulation and biomagnification studies. (c) 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://
  • Toli, Elisavet A.; Noreikiene, Kristina; De Faveri, Jacquelin; Merila, Juha (2017)
    Evidence for phenotypic plasticity in brain size and the size of different brain parts is widespread, but experimental investigations into this effect remain scarce and are usually conducted using individuals from a single population. As the costs and benefits of plasticity may differ among populations, the extent of brain plasticity may also differ from one population to another. In a common garden experiment conducted with three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) originating from four different populations, we investigated whether environmental enrichment (aquaria provided with structural complexity) caused an increase in the brain size or size of different brain parts compared to controls (bare aquaria). We found no evidence for a positive effect of environmental enrichment on brain size or size of different brain parts in either of the sexes in any of the populations. However, in all populations, males had larger brains than females, and the degree of sexual size dimorphism (SSD) in relative brain size ranged from 5.1 to 11.6% across the populations. Evidence was also found for genetically based differences in relative brain size among populations, as well as for plasticity in the size of different brain parts, as evidenced by consistent size differences among replicate blocks that differed in their temperature.
  • Flink, Henrik; Nordahl, Oscar; Hall, Marcus; Rarysson, Anton; Bergstrom, Kristofer; Larsson, Per; Petersson, Erik; Merila, Juha; Tibblin, Petter (2021)
    The practice within recreational fisheries to release captured fish back to the wild, known as catch-and-release (C&R), is an increasingly important strategy to protect fish stocks from overexploitation. However, C&R is a stressor and since animal reproduction is particularly sensitive to stress there is reason to suspect that such a practice induces sublethal fitness consequences. Here, we investigated whether and how C&R fishing influenced the reproductive potential in an anadromous population of Northern pike (Esox lucius). First, female pike were exposed to authentic C&R using rod-and-reel fishing in a coastal foraging habitat prior to the spawning period. Next, we observed the migration to the freshwater spawning habitat and compared both the timing of arrival and maturity stage between C&R-treated and control individuals. Finally, to evaluate effects on the quality and viability of eggs we stripped captured control and recaptured C&R-treated females, measured egg dry mass to assess nutrient content, conducted artificial fertilisations and incubated eggs in a controlled laboratory experiment. We found no evidence of C&R causing alterations in either arrival time, maturity stage, or the quality and viability of fertilised eggs. In combination, our results suggest that long-term effects of C&R-induced stress on key reproductive traits of pike, if any, are minor.
  • Jarić, Ivan; Roll, Uri; Arlinghaus, Robert; Belmaker, Jonathan; Chen, Yan; China, Victor; Douda, Karel; Essl, Franz; Jähnig, Sonja C.; Jeschke, Jonathan M.; Kalinkat, Gregor; Kalous, Lukáš; Ladle, Richard; Lennox, Robert J.; Rosa, Rui; Sbragaglia, Valerio; Sherren, Kate; Šmejkal, Marek; Soriano-Redondo, Andrea; Souza, Allan T.; Wolter, Christian; Correia, Ricardo A. (2020)
    The ongoing digital revolution in the age of big data is opening new research opportunities. Culturomics and iEcology, two emerging research areas based on the analysis of online data resources, can provide novel scientific insights and inform conservation and management efforts. To date, culturomics and iEcology have been applied primarily in the terrestrial realm. Here, we advocate for expanding such applications to the aquatic realm by providing a brief overview of these new approaches and outlining key areas in which culturomics and iEcology are likely to have the highest impact, including the management of protected areas; fisheries; flagship species identification; detection and distribution of threatened, rare, and alien species; assessment of ecosystem status and anthropogenic impacts; and social impact assessment. When deployed in the right context with awareness of potential biases, culturomics and iEcology are ripe for rapid development as low-cost research approaches based on data available from digital sources, with increasingly diverse applications for aquatic ecosystems.
  • Herczeg, Gabor; Gonda, Maria Abigel; Balazs, Gergely; Noreikiene, Kristina; Merila, Juha (2015)
    Background: Plasticity in brain size and the size of different brain regions during early ontogeny is known from many vertebrate taxa, but less is known about plasticity in the brains of adults. In contrast to mammals and birds, most parts of a fish's brain continue to undergo neurogenesis throughout adulthood, making lifelong plasticity in brain size possible. We tested whether maturing adult three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) reared in a stimulus-poor environment exhibited brain plasticity in response to environmental enrichment, and whether these responses were sex-specific, thus altering the degree of sexual size dimorphism in the brain. Results: Relative sizes of total brain and bulbus olfactorius showed sex-specific responses to treatment: males developed larger brains but smaller bulbi olfactorii than females in the enriched treatment. Hence, the degree of sexual size dimorphism (SSD) in relative brain size and the relative size of the bulbus olfactorius was found to be environment-dependent. Furthermore, the enriched treatment induced development of smaller tecta optica in both sexes. Conclusions: These results demonstrate that adult fish can alter the size of their brain (or brain regions) in response to environmental stimuli, and these responses can be sex-specific. Hence, the degree of SSD in brain size can be environment-dependent, and our results hint at the possibility of a large plastic component to SSD in stickleback brains. Apart from contributing to our understanding of the processes shaping and explaining variation in brain size and the size of different brain regions in the wild, the results show that provision of structural complexity in captive environments can influence brain development. Assuming that the observed plasticity influences fish behaviour, these findings may also have relevance for fish stocking, both for economical and conservational purposes.
  • Wagner, Maximilian; Bracun, Sandra; Duenser, Anna; Sturmbauer, Christian; Gessl, Wolfgang; Ahi, Ehsan Pashay (2022)
    Background Elasmoid scales are one of the most common dermal appendages and can be found in almost all species of bony fish differing greatly in their shape. Whilst the genetic underpinnings behind elasmoid scale development have been investigated, not much is known about the mechanisms involved in moulding of scales. To investigate the links between gene expression differences and morphological divergence, we inferred shape variation of scales from two different areas of the body (anterior and posterior) stemming from ten haplochromine cichlid species from different origins (Lake Tanganyika, Lake Malawi, Lake Victoria and riverine). Additionally, we investigated transcriptional differences of a set of genes known to be involved in scale development and morphogenesis in fish. Results We found that scales from the anterior and posterior part of the body strongly differ in their overall shape, and a separate look on scales from each body part revealed similar trajectories of shape differences considering the lake origin of single investigated species. Above all, nine as well as 11 out of 16 target genes showed expression differences between the lakes for the anterior and posterior dataset, respectively. Whereas in posterior scales four genes (dlx5, eda, rankl and shh) revealed significant correlations between expression and morphological differentiation, in anterior scales only one gene (eda) showed such a correlation. Furthermore, eda displayed the most significant expression difference between species of Lake Tanganyika and species of the other two younger lakes. Finally, we found genetic differences in downstream regions of eda gene (e.g., in the eda-tnfsf13b inter-genic region) that are associated with observed expression differences. This is reminiscent of a genetic difference in the eda-tnfsf13b inter-genic region which leads to gain or loss of armour plates in stickleback. Conclusion These findings provide evidence for cross-species transcriptional differences of an important morphogenetic factor, eda, which is involved in formation of ectodermal appendages. These expression differences appeared to be associated with morphological differences observed in the scales of haplochromine cichlids indicating potential role of eda mediated signal in divergent scale morphogenesis in fish.