An Innovative Setup for High-Throughput Respirometry of Small Aquatic Animals

Melissa K. Drown, Amanda N. DeLiberto, Douglas L. Crawford, Marjorie F. Oleksiak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Metabolic rate is often measured as a phenotype in evolutionary genetics, among other fields including many facets of physiology, behavior, and ecology, because it impacts organismal fitness, is repeatable and heritable, and is responsive to numerous environmental variables. Aquatic respirometry, a method used to measure metabolic rate, has allowed key questions in these fields to be investigated, namely: (1) why do individuals from the same population exhibit up to 3-fold differences in metabolic rate, (2) how does metabolic rate change during an individual’s lifetime, and (3) what metabolic rate is advantageous in a specific environment? Current respirometry studies often suffer from small sample sizes and rely on low throughput approaches to measure metabolic rate, making it difficult to answer these and other relevant ecological and evolutionary questions due to lack of power, failure to capture true biological variation, and confounding variables, like time, that are introduced due to limitations in methodology. Here we describe a scalable high-throughput intermittent flow respirometer (HIFR) design and use it to measure the metabolic rates of 19 aquatic animals in one night while reducing equipment costs and time by more than 50%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number581104
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
StatePublished - Oct 20 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Fundulus heteroclitus
  • aquatic physiology
  • evolutionary analysis
  • respirometry
  • routine metabolic rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Ocean Engineering


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