Although considered a stenohaline freshwater species, European perch (Perca fluviatilis) inhabit brackish waters. The present study determined the maximum salinity tolerance and osmoregulatory capability on individuals originating from brackish water and from freshwater populations. The fish were acclimated for 3 weeks to salinities of 0, 10, 12.5, 15, 17.5 and 20 after an initial stepwise increase to the target salinity. The maximum salinity tolerance was determined as the test salinity below which the fish could not acclimate and lost equilibrium. Blood plasma osmolality was measured if the fish had not lost equilibrium after the acclimation period. The maximum salinity tolerance was 17.5 for brackish water European perch and 10 for fresh water European perch. The high salinity tolerance of the brackish water European perch was caused by their ability to both hyper- and hypo-osmoregulate, whereas the freshwater originating fish could only hyper-osmoregulate. The results showed that maximum salinity tolerances and osmoregulatory capabilities depends on the origin habitat salinity. Due to genetic differentiation between European perch populations in brackish and fresh water, the possibility of brackish water European perch being a subspecies of European perch is discussed, yet vital knowledge concerning heritability of salinity tolerance traits is still missing. Regardless of species status, within-species plasticity in the ability to cope with varying salinities have substantial ecological and conservation implications and underlines the need for managing brackish water and freshwater European perch stocks separately.
- Brackish water
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecological Modeling
- Nature and Landscape Conservation
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law